Five Finger Discount: I Briefly Became A Thief At University, And I Still Feel Guilty About It

My compulsive thievery helped me feel like I controlled something in my life. After feeling like i was loosing track of myself for months, being able to have something without having to give anything back, was the ultimate control kick.
Publish date:
February 11, 2013
theft, crime, make-up, Petty Theft

Recently, my chums and I were having a few pints of wine and chatting about the really important stuff in life (“it would be nice to have a beard*, just for a day, just to see!”) when somehow we started talking about shoplifting.

It turned out that out of the four of us, three of us had done a pretty considerable amount of petty (very petty) theft in our time.

Naturally, we listed the stupid shit we’d nicked, had a laugh and then got a bit wide-eyed, serious and “I can’t believe I used to do that, thank god I grew up” and moved back onto the important stuff (“were Timon and Pumbaa a couple**?”).

The thing is, though, since that conversation I have had this horrible niggling guilt about all the nicking I done. No amount of online petition signing can cleanse my soul, so I thought I would tell the internet about it instead. YOLO, yo.

Basically, I guess I feel guilty and shitty because I still don’t really know why I did it. I mean, yeah, I was poor because I was in third year of uni and my money went on (in this order) fags, booze, clothes, drugs***, food. But the thing is, I stole shit I wouldn’t have bought, really, even if I had the money, like:

Tatler, Vanity Fair and, er, Angling TimesTatler’s breathless social pages make me feel physically ill, Vanity Fair is 99% adverts for ugly shit I can’t afford and I have a deep and pathological fear of fish and fishing. Why I steal these? Who knows, man, who knows.

A giant red flower hairclipI tried it on, and realised it made me look like a sad drunk flamenco dancer who was down on her luck. It was horrible and tacky but it had a pretty considerable price tag, so up my sleeve and out the shop it went. I never wore it.

BadGal mascaraOK. This one I would have maybe bought if I had had the dollar, even though Bourjois Clubbing mascara was my jam at the time, and half the price. I literally only nicked this because me and a friend who also loved to shoplift (or, ‘shlift’ as we called it) thought it would be LOLZ to be bad gals and steal some BadGal.

She nicked the eyeliner and I, disappointed by BadGal’s general crapness, was always jealous of her. Also, this so wasn’t worth it: a security guard saw us and took chase and we had to hide in the toilets of a nearby theatre for almost an hour. I almost had a heart attack.

Oh, sometimes I would also steal pots of olives, but that makes perfect sense because olives are so tasty. Especially when the secret ingredient is crime.

I guess a huge part of this compulsive thievery was that I needed to feel like I controlled something in my life. I was only just allowing myself to grieve for my mother, over a year after her suicide, my degree was a hop, skip, jump from falling into the toilet and I had had what I now recognise as a minor mental breakdown (it was really weird, because I was in fancy dress at the time and I just cried for hours).

I guess, after feeling like I was losing track of myself for months, I felt like being able to have something, without having to give anything, was the ultimate control kick? And now that I can actually afford to buy BadGal’s big, expensive sister They’re Real, I feel just really really bad for doing all that nicking.

Well, obviously not that bad, because otherwise I wouldn’t be sharing it, huh?

Did you go through a klepto phase, or is it just me and my degenerate friends who came to love the thrill of nicking fishing magazines? Oh god, please say we’re not alone! @beccadp.

* I would go for a full on lumberjack beard. ** Yes. They were a couple and they adopted Simba and RAISED HIM TO BE KING because they were great parents. *** Just party ones, and an endless supply of all-curing ibuprofen.