Always a Thief

I've been stealing and shoplifting as long as I can remember. Literally, one of my oldest memories is of stealing a bag of black plastic spiders from a grocery store when my mother wouldn't get them for me. I don't know how old I was at the time, but I'm pretty sure it was before I turned 4.

I have a handful of similar childhood memories, I never much respected the possessions of others (either businesses or people), and I was a total klepto as a teenager. I never had enough money (what teen does?), but I loved to read, so I would go into used bookstores, browse, and steal whatever I wanted. I ended up getting rather bold, coming home with my backpack filled with as many as 18 books in one day. And I did it as often as I could.

I was caught being suspicious once at a small new bookstore, and banned from going back there, but nothing further happened to me. Strangely, none of the people at the used bookstores that I often visited (but rarely bought anything at) seemed to get suspicious. Go figure.

Around the same time I stole all sorts of small objects from friends, from school, from anyone who trusted me enough to let me in their house. I often had no use for them, it was simply a matter of having an opportunity and taking it for no reason other than because I liked it. I was caught a couple of times, but always managed to pass it off as a genuine mistake or someone setting me up.

In my late teens I often had the opportunity to visit the (only reasonably close) mall, and there I learned the joys of copying computer games and then returning them saying they didn't work with my computer (windows XP was very new then and a lot of games didn't work on it). At the same time, I would get an extra big bag for whatever game I had bought, saying I was planning on doing a lot of shopping and needed a big bag, and visit the bookstore in the mall. Yes, I'm a geek.

There it was relatively easy to fill my bag with books and walk out like nothing was up. Never caught, though I had a close call once. I hadn't been there for a while and I didn't notice the new magnetic security gate thing until I was walking out.

I walked around it (I managed to make doing so look natural, there was plenty of room), but it still beeped. Quietly, unobtrusively, and while I was scared out of my mind I just strolled on (with my huge, bulging bag of books) like nothing had happened. No one noticed a thing. After that I learned to take the security tags out of hardbound books before I stole them.

Sometime around my late teens I also (mostly) stopped stealing from friends, mostly because the junk I took was never worth it. I got better about stealing useless stuff I'd just have to hide away, but I also started stealing from other stores, especially when I was 20 and 21. On my way to college I'd pick up special chocolates I liked from the grocery store and walk out with them under my coat, and I stole makeup all the time from the local right-aid.

Actually, I stole a lot of makeup and other cosmetic stuff. I even stole a long umbrella once, walked out the door with it under my coat. I was horribly compulsive. I was afraid of getting caught, but at the same time I felt like I had to steal. If I went home without shoplifting something I felt bad about myself, like I'd failed to take an opportunity. Naturally, you can't rip off the same store day after day and not get caught, especially if you're as unusual looking as I was. Tall, super-goth chicks tend to stand out in small towns.

One day, my pockets full of junk (half of which I might use once or twice), a lady asked me if she could help me find something. She was obviously suspicious, and while I said no thanks she had no trouble looking in one of my (huge, stuffed) pockets and seeing soon-to-be-stolen goods. She asked to see the contents of my pocket, I complied reluctantly, and she let me off with the warning never to come back. I never mentioned my other pocket was still full of stuff, and she never noticed.

That's when I started cutting back, realizing I was lucky to get off that time. I didn't stop entirely until I came into some money and stealing was genuinely pointless. I slowly grew away from the compulsion. I'm broke again, and I've considered shoplifting again, but I'm nervous about it. Stealing from people, though, I continue to do very intermittently when I'm sure it can't be traced back to me.

Aside from a couple of painful memories of being caught and banned from stores, I have no regrets. I've never felt guilt or shame or any of the usual emotional soup most people associate with theft.

Phage Phage
26-30, F
31 Responses Mar 15, 2009

find a casket of drinks, make sure recycling is available in the store, get someone to complain about the recycling being unavailable at the time to a staff member, make sure the bottles are dark....then go tell a staff member the same story about the recycling; and of course, as gullible as they are; they will let you off with a whole casket of drinks without paying a nickel.

I have played Dragon Age: Origins recently, I like it overall! I find it difficult though, I mean other than playing as a mage. But that's off subject I guess :P<br />
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And I don't like chance in a game. I like to feel in control. I always preferred games in which a winning strategy always succeeds. Finding that winning strategy can take time, and it may not work in every situation. I wouldn't mind if the AI responded to my strategy, in fact that would be fun. But I hate it when chance determines how well I do.

Oh, it was inevitable that I got caught, and as such things go not really that bad. And it's not like I've stopped stealing entirely, I just don't shoplift.

Nice story.<br />
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Interestingly, one of my first memories was of stealing candy from a store. It was warheads, if I remember. My dad got mad at me.<br />
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It's rather sad that you got caught. Oh well. Fun while it lasted?

First off, chess is not a real time game, even speed chess is considered turn based. Secondly, even though it's not real time, chess is still played in four dimensional reality. A smartass without the smart is just an ***.<br />
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And I used to play chess as a kid and I don't really care for it. It's too rigid and predictable and lacks two things a good war game needs: chance and diplomacy. Which is why when it comes to board war games I prefer risk. The game mechanics are a little simplistic, but with a group of at least four people the social element makes up for it.<br />
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I still have the same checks I got when I first opened a bank account. And by still have I mean they're stashed away in a box of letters, documents, and office supplies. They have uses, but for at least 99% of transactions they've been replaced by debit cards.

Chess was played in what we used to call "real time three dimissional reality". No screen or outside power source was used.<br />
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Ha, I wrote a check at a store yesterday and the young girl at the cash resister acted like she had never seen one before. Had to call the manager for help…DD

Chess... that's like what people played before they had starcraft, right?

I used to play "pong" at the University’s common break room. Everyone thought it was neat.<br />
Usually I played a game we called “Chess”. Ever heard of it?...DD

Haha, that's because flight sims are the very height of geekery. I'm not enough of a geek to be a true flight simmer, even though I enjoy it from time to time.<br />
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And I'm not sure if I have a favorite exactly. Dragon Age: Origins is amazing, but like many really complex RPGs it has a number of weird quest related bugs. The world is interesting and well constructed, with a complex back-story and even the option to have your character come from one of seven different backgrounds all with different beginnings. And it has a fair number of opportunities for general douchbaggery, but for all it's moral gray areas (and there are a lot), you still find yourself all too often you find yourself saving townsfolk for no pay at all.<br />
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Empire: Total war is, of course, awesome as well in the way that total war games always are. It's great fun to line up your musketeers and hold the line against charging natives, or to watch your cannon balls ricochet off the ground, bouncing through the enemy lines and leaving trails of bodies. And the ship warfare is good too, though a bit buggy at times. The game does bog down some as you progress, though, with a lot of territories to manage and armies to move and trade and diplomacy and such.<br />
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Aliens vs. Predator disappointed me. The single pla<x>yer was good, but too short and lacked a lot of the coolness which Alien vs. Predator 2 had. I never played the multipla<x>yer, though, being as I have the pirated version, and that's likely where most of the fun was. It was with AvP2.<br />
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The mass effect games are great, with sweet stories and a lot of opportunities to be utterly ruthless, something I adore in an RPG. In fact, there are even places where you can interrupt cutscenes to shoot people, or give them a good punch in the nose, or whatever. A lot of **** has been talked about the crappy vehicle in ME1 and the way it bounced around like it weighed nothing (and okay, everything in that game seemed to rely on gravity manipulation, but it still looked awful), and both games have the usual RPG quest bugs, but this by no means stopped them from being worth playing. ME2 is better in every respect except for one: in ME1 you drove around in your bouncing tank to find minerals to mine, in ME2 you have to do this lame scanner thing which takes forever and really isn't any fun at all, but is necessary to get the best upgrades.<br />
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If I had to recommend one game, though, it'd be Empire: Total War.

I suppose it bears some resemblance to Christianity in the same way that all religions serve similar functions of social control for the purpose of making the individual serve the society, but she doesn't have any of the hangups about sin that Christians have. She never had an issue about me being bisexual, and her only concerns with my promiscuity are practical ones. Actually, up until a couple of months ago she used to shoplift cigarettes for me (something that's easier to get away with in a small town than where I live) up until she got caught, which was rather embarrassing but she didn't get in any actual trouble.<br />
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That's a great example of how easily manipulated she is, though. She hates the fact that I smoke, but still gets me cigarettes or gives me cigarette money when I need it.<br />
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I don't recall her ever having any issues with my being goth, though. At least, not exactly. I had a rather menacing or supercilious mien that she didn't approve of, but she was disproving of that long before I started being goth. She'd accuse me of "lording over" people (usually her), which seemed to be something I did by standing in a room watching someone without talking to them. Go figure.<br />
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As for siblings, not really. I have a half brother and half sister on my dad's side, but it's pretty meaningless being as they never lived with my mother and I and I really don't know either of them. I know my dad a bit better though I didn't grow up with him either, but he's a strange even by my standards.<br />
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I was never sent to bootcamp, but I did go to a special school in third grade for serious problem children. I had my own driver because there was no one else going there from the town I lived near, and there were less then five or six students and two teachers.

Sounds similar to the Catholic idea, except without limitation to which people you ought to be helping and who you're really doing it for. The optimism and emotions must've been pure torture though - no sarcasm.<br />
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I know that story, for sure. My little brother is the genius of the family though, not me. Actually, I'm of the lower intelligence. So I didn't have my mother expecting much from me, academically speaking. But appearances are a huge thing. How was she on the way you presented yourself? You said you were a "super-goth chick," and considering she was big on appearances, did she care about your style?<br />
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The opposite hold true for myself. You remind me a bit of my eldest sister here, except she had boderline personality disorder, so it'd be from one extreme to the next. There was a lot of fighting going on. Did you ever get sent to bootcamp? Did you have any siblings?<br />
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XD Sounds like a good solution to me! Nice and simple.

XC, my mother instilled in me a deep and pervasive loathing of all wishy-washy, muddle-headed, over-emotional, optimistic everything-will-be-okay-if-we-just-think-positive new-age pseudo-Buddhist sponge-brains. She did this by being one. I grew up being told that happiness is doing for others, and that I should be selfless and bla bla bla. Note that she talked about this stuff, but in practice was completely capricious, being either really nice or a raging ***** depending on her mood.<br />
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She was also really big on keeping up appearances and everyone thought she was just the best mother ever when in fact she was alternately super-critical when she thought I was wrong or not living up to my potential (and having a child far smarter than herself she expected the sun and moon from me), or would plaster on the positive reinforcement whenever I did something she liked. Only she'd do it in this awful, over-done way that made me sorry I'd done it.<br />
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She's also very easily manipulated and has a much lower tolerance for conflict than me, so we would have these epic power struggles on a regular basis and she even called the cops on me a few times. When I was very young I was also very violent and some special program she'd taken me to had tought her this hold for basically sitting on me until I calmed down--something which worked up until I was too big for her to win against, at which point she had no idea how to handle me. Finally when I was in my mid teens she gave up trying to control me.<br />
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She eventually repaired our relationship before I moved out by getting me stoned all the time.<br />
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ED, Tons of them. Starting with Oregon trail in school just like everyone else, and most recently Aliens vs. Predator and Empire: Total War. I also played through mass effect and am mostly through mass effect 2, I haven't been dragon age origins yet but mostly because I keep re-starting 'cause I get halfway through and decide my character sucks.<br />
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I love RTS and good, non-MMO RPG games. I occasionally get into combat flight sims too and bought myself a kickass set of flight sim hardware complete with head tracker, rudder pedals, and a HOTAS over a year ago. I got DCS blackshark right after it went up on pirate bay and spent a week or so trying to learn it--riding a unicycle and juggling chainsaws would be easier. As a rule I love realism and adore helicopter sims, but not to the point where I want to do a page-long checklist just to get off the ground.

Ha, brilliant. Just wondering how many times a vision can be repeated until it gets old... when I find out, I'll let you know. :D

I'm curious as to how that shaped your view of your mother, really. Mine has hardly ever shown any weakness. It's always been power, power, power. Recently, she cried in front of me for the first time. I think less of her, but after drilling fear into me, I still wouldn't dare do anything too risky... purposely. She is my main weakness. I often hope she'd just die so I'd be free of her, but I also fear what would happen if she did. <br />
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Actually, when I think of you and Aeko, I'm beyond interested in knowing your views of your family.

As I recall (and I have only very, very vague memories) my mom did find out after we got out of the store to the car. I'm not sure if I told her (it's possible, I tend to be proud of getting away with stuff) or she caught me, but she was too embarrassed to go back into the store.<br />
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Perhaps that was one of those pivotal moments in my childhood that shaped me for years to come. I've not really thought about it in that context before, though, and I can't remember enough to really know anyway.

Damn! Stealing plastic spiders before four?! I remember I'd grab something from the place where the register was, like candy or something equally simple. I'd forget I had it, but once we started leaving, I'd remember. Then I'd have a debate with myself until I reached the doors, and after thinking of the consequences, should I get caught, I decided it wasn't worth it. So I'd slap my head, tell my mom I'd forgotten to put the candy or toy up, and return it. Multiple times I'd try to go through with it, but my mother has a powerful hold on me.

I enjoyed this story, Phage. You have a very unique way of looking at things.<br />
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I guess you guys could refer to me as a "normal" (I'm pretty unique, but in other ways). I have a really strong conscience actually, I always hurt more over the thought of stealing from someone else than of someone stealing from me. I was just born that way.<br />
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Once when I was very young, I got a piece of candy at the store and tried to show it to my mom, but she was busy so I put it in my pocket and saved it for later. I forgot about it till after we had left the store. When I remembered it, I insisted that my parents bring me back so I could properly return it! They did, and the store clerk said I could have it for free because of my honesty. She insisted, but I really didn't want to. I ate it, feeling forced to and sick....so it taught me a lesson not to forget candy in my pocket! Everyone learns a different lesson in any given situation I guess.

I hear ya DD, I worked alone except for the two I pled guilty to, I took on a normal to train for my last heist, had a nice vault job picked out that was going to take longer than the usual couple of minutes.<br />
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Like you I talk about what I have already done time for and what the statue of limitations has expired for.<br />
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I like working alone, but for bigger projects help is needed at times.<br />
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Those days are behind me as far as violent crime goes, but I must admit I still feel the urge to be super human again.<br />
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I have read some of your posts, you must be close to sixty. I was born in the time fr<x>ame you were active.<br />
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Is it true we calm down with age?<br />
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I do not seek thrills anymore, soon will be looking for retirement if you will.<br />
I

quest911, I always worked alone and never talked to anyone about what I did. I know if someone else knows then the police could find out. <br />
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I also never did anything to attract too much attention. Ha! Liquor stores had booze and $ plus they were robed all the time. Perfect for college days.<br />
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I would also jump guys in the parking lot of large bar/clubs. I knew bar fights were common. I got caught once because the police were coming in as I was leaving. I had blood on my hands and shirt plus a guy’s wallet. Tried to claim self-defense. <br />
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On the other hand I never did anything big. Truth is I did it for the thrill as much asthe $. <br />
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That said, ever time there was a 2-3 foot snow storm in Denver I got the itch…DD

when I was captured the police opened fire on me, I took them on a 3 hour chase with the rear tire blown out on my van, had completed the switch from stolen ride to clean ride when my partner broke "weak"<br />
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Long story short, I agreed not to sue the cops and pled guilty to 2 bank robberies, suspected of 13, actual number was 18 banks in 5 yrs in 3 states. <br />
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Did 4 yrs in club fed, it was the first place I felt that I had a peer group. <br />
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The Aryan Brotherhood saw my gifts and tried to recruit me. I stayed friendly with them and helped them out a few times, but never fully joined. <br />
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I am completely free now, and like Phage broke again, well kinda. <br />
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If I did not learn my lesson, I learned alot of new tricks.<br />
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My partner at the time I was training, my over confidence is what led to my capture, I will never work with a "normal" again. I did not fathom how scared he was.

When I was in college I loved to rob liquor stores. I would fill up a box with Crown Royal Whisky, Vodka etc. and get a case of good German beer. Then I would offer to pay in hundreds. I paid in hundreds because they always have a hiding place for there big bills. Ha! Then I showed them my .357 and had them take my stuff to my stolen car. Took there wallet while I was at it.<br />
I never took a woman’s purse because I just can’t hurt women, Women are good luck for me…DD <br />
P/s this was in 1965-1970, way past any statue of limitations.

Haha, a bank robber? Awesome. The family legend goes that my grandmother on my dad's side was a getaway driver at a bank heist once, but she was totally nuts.

I am a semi retired bank robber, I remember my first one, what a rush, I loved it more than life itself.

HA! We would have made a team! You make an old man smile...DD

Nice. Utterly crazy, mind you, but totally cool.

My cousin and I were always trying to out do each other at shop lifting. We would put new shirts on and leave our used up crap and just walk out. One would distract while the other got some thing, that sort of thing. <br />
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Our best day we challenged each other to steel something hard. I told him to steel the light bulb over the pool table at Jimbo’s bar. He ran in and jumped on the table and got the bulb while Jimbo was yelling, cursing. We laughed at that one. He dared me to steal this fancy brief case in the center of a nice men’s store. I walked in straight to the brief case and started out the door. Some guy tried to grab me but I took off running. He chased me down this alley until he got winded and I had the case under the house for a long time after that. I later kept a pistol that I stole from somebody’s house. I guess it was a good thing I got the brief case or the gun might have gotten dirty…DD

Wow. It always boggles my mind that people can feel guilt for such little things. Over anything, really, but especially over little things. What's it like?

I have on occasion stolen things (makeup, clothes, jewelry) just for the impulsivity of it. If that makes sense. However with me being borderline, I felt guilt and shame afterwards but would still return and do the same thing again. <br />
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There were times I DIDN'T have money and needed the things so I did it because of that reason. I still felt the shame.

Truly a morality tale if ever I've heard one. The morals being: Don't share, trusting leads to betrayal, and always have a good lie ready when you get caught.

I remember stealing a roll of Werther's Originals (You know, those caramel hard candies that geriatrics love)...Anyway, I took them while with my mother at a local grocery store. I hid them in my pocket until I got home and because I could never keep a secret (still can't) I told my little brother and gave him some. I told him not to tell my mother, but he was 3 at the time and he went into the kitchen munching on one no more than five minutes later. My mother asked him where he had gotten the candy and he had told her that I had given it to him. She came into the room, freaking out, and told me to get my coat on because we were going back to the store to return them. I begged her no, but she said that the only way I would learn that stealing is wrong was to tell the truth and own up to the consequences. She made me go up to the customer service desk, give the woman there the candy, and tell her that I had stolen them and was sorry for doing so. I was never so terrified in my life and that has probably kept me from even having thoughts of stealing something ever again. Thanks, Mom.

Yep, kleptomania is in the DSM-IV. I'm not sure I'd have gotten the diagnosis, but I certainly experienced features of that condition. Very, very glad I got over it, though, because while I may have no problem with theft (or much else, really, yay for being a sociopath), the compulsion to steal had become very uncomfortable and lead me to make poor choices.