Everyone knows that crime doesn’t pay, but I heard shoplifting is a great way to get things for free. This sounds quite appealing as I work really hard but somehow I’m still poor. Adverts have told me how to want things but not how to get them, it’s a tricky situation.
I remember the first time someone told me that they shoplift things. It was someone that I quite respected so I didn’t know how to react; disgusted or impressed? I was mainly jealous. It was something I knew I could never do, far too risky. All I could think was ways to get caught.
It quickly slipped from my mind, forced out by reason and fear.
Clearly it never left me completely because years later, in the present day, I find myself penniless and bored. So yet again shoplifting troubles my mind.
I decided to try a bit of shoplifting.
I set myself some simple rules to minimise my chances of getting caught; things like, never steal anything you cannot afford - this way if someone catches you there is an outside chance that you can convince them it was an accident and that you intended to pay all along.
The problem with setting yourself rules about shoplifting is that if you’re considering shoplifting then the chances are that you are probably not adverse to breaking a few rules.
So I decided sod the rules lets just do it.
So now I’m standing in a CD shop with three CDs in my hand. One slight problem is that they all have those, do-not-pass-go-advance-straight-to-jail tags on. This would never do. I browse the DVDs as a cover to carefully unpick the tags.
I’m trying hard not to look suspicious and to pick the tags off quietly. The illegality of my actions is starting to play heavily on my mind.
I’m becoming hyper sensitive to my surroundings, which is the exact opposite of shopping normally for me. It feels like I can hear the cameras straining to film my every move, I’m now certain that security guards are moving into strategic positions around me.
In a desperate attempt to stave off a panic attack I discard the removed tags into a bucket of poster. The inside of my head is approaching uninhabitable so I ditch the de-tagged CDs and swiftly exit the store.
Outside and out of sight relief washes over me, followed closely but disappointment. I’d just endured a spiralling crescendo of paranoia for nothing. I’d chickened out at the last hurdle.
Half an hour later and I’m striding back into the shop directly to the ‘prepared’ CDs, I picked them up and walked into the into the busy queue for a till. Bending down and pretending to retie one of my shoes I stuff all three CDs into my bag. I stood back up.
Nothing happened. No one mentioned anything, no security guards tackled me to the floor, no one was going to stop me. Now I’m waiting for what seems like forever just in case someone in the queue was going to say something under their breath.
They didn’t. I feign looking at my watch like I have to be somewhere then hurry towards the exit as if I’m late for something. Approaching the sensors every muscle I have tenses, I feel about a foot shorter than normal.
It suddenly hits me that I haven’t thought through what I’ll do if the alarms do go off.
I’m running through my options as the sensor approaches, then before I’ve had time to decide between fight or flight, I’m suddenly walking between them.
I’m still tense as hell six shops down the road, sweat is pouring off me, and then it hits me that I’ve actually gotten away with it. The relief and buzz is like a drug running all through my body. Except it’s way better than drugs because instead of killing me like drugs do, shoplifting has given me something. Not just some new CDs but a small two fingers to my crappy job, my ridiculous overdraft, and all that expensive CCTV they’ve put all over the high street.
My fears of getting caught almost stopped my altogether, but wrongly or rightly I powered through and just did it. In doing so I realised that all those security devices; cameras, tags, and guards, aren’t there to stop you breaking the rules - they are there to make you stop yourself from breaking the rules.