I didn’t steal because I was destitute. I stole because I had different emotions — fear, anger, frustration, and desperation — all banging up against one another. Shoplifting became the release, and the release became an addiction. I felt entitled to shoplift because I felt that I had suffered unfairly in my life and that stealing redressed these wrongs. Let someone else be the victim.
I thought about shoplifting before I got out of bed in the morning. I’d go on binges. I’d lose myself. I stole from so many stores that I literally lost track of my whereabouts and relied on merchandise tags to tell me what store I was stealing from. I wasn’t aware of what I was taking, just grabbing things off the shelves.
Look around your house: Everything you’ve paid for, I stole — camera equipment, houseplants, paintings, shoes, CDs, videocassettes, DVDs, mouthwash, aspirin, batteries, film, lightbulbs, a fan, towels, gift wrapping, coats, sweaters, books, magazines, envelopes, and children’s toys. I had a twelve-by-twenty-foot storage room filled with things I’d never use.
I wore a baggy coat, and in summer I wore loose-fitting clothing. I’ve heard of people who line shopping bags with aluminum foil to scramble electronic sensors. I always carried razor blades, a pair of pliers, and a screwdriver to remove security tags. I preferred stores in older buildings because they weren’t designed with shoplifters in mind, and I looked for places in the store with columns where I could hide from cameras.
One time, I was trying on shoes in a department store and deceived the saleslady into going to the back room. While she was gone, I put a pair in a bag and walked out of the store. I should have never looked back, but I immediately returned to the store. The saleslady must have been looking for me because when she saw me, I was surrounded by sixteen store detectives. I knew they had me. And they took me to a jail cell that was right on the store premises. I wasn’t alone. I had lots of company in there.
I’ve been arrested five times. Each time I asked myself how I could do it better the next time so I wouldn’t get caught again.