Archives For The Artful Dodger

shoplift 3

I just shoplifted a few items from Ulta, an overpriced makeup superstore.

Note: I’m not condoning shoplifting, or in fact, instructing any of you to do so.

As a matter of fact, this is a work of fiction.

If you get caught, and pull this article up on your phone to show security officers how you were led astray, they will laugh at you.

However. I KNOW some of you snapperheads are going to read this and become inspired to shoplift.

So, some basic rules.

1. Don’t ever shoplift from a liquor store, pawn shop, or anywhere the owner is strapped. You want an IPhone, not a bullet in your neck.

2. Don’t steal from people. Don’t steal from small mom and pop stores. There is honor among thieves! Go after the big retail chains. They pay slave wages, factor shoplifting into their overpriced inventory and are run by scumbags who deserve it.

3. Stay calm. Be upbeat and friendly if spoken to. Dress like a mediocre middle class white person, even if you’re not.

4. Have some of your friends, the ones who look like they drank too much tequila and woke up in a public bathroom, walk around acting suspicious. They will divert attention from you, dressed as a respectable suburban drone.

5. Don’t get cocky because you weren’t popped in Target. They have a crazy good camera system. They see EVERYTHING. They’re just not bothering your small-potatoes ass until it’s a felony. Then it’s hello, jail time.

6. Don’t cran your neck looking for cameras like an amateur. Pretend to reach for stuff on top shelves.

7. Never run unless you have been caught. If someone with a walkie talkie and pants up to his nipples accosts you are, RUN LIKE HELL

8. Wear shoes that are easy to run in (see # 4)

9. Stick a toddler in your cart and give him stuff to hold. Those little shits grab stuff all the time. Just hand it back and scold your kid. Don’t feel bad using your kid to steal. That little financial drain is the reason you have to shoplift anyway.

I had the money to buy what I wanted. As a matter of fact, I bought some things as well. That’s actually one of the techniques to avoid getting caught. Make a purchase.

So why did I steal?

Because. Like a whole lot of other things I shouldn’t do, I get a high from it. It appeals to the rebellious punk buried alive inside me. It’s my “fuck you” to the man. (yes, I just said that, deal with it).

But ever since I had a kid, I rarely shoplift. I don’t want to have to call Little Dude from county lock up to come bail me out.


I learned to shoplift from an expert. When I was in junior high my absolute best friend (well, my only friend) was Jayce, the other white girl in my school. Her older sister, Kelly, five years our senior, was the sister I never had – and my mentor in the art of the five finger discount.

Kelly and Jayce were the two sweetest girls on the planet. Kelly in particular had an angelic quality about her that made everyone adore her. Shoplifting expertise was so incongruous with her outward demeanor, no one ever suspected her.

She was also a heroin junkie, constantly bouncing in and out of methadone programs and rehabs. But that personality of hers – she was just so NICE. Even my mother loved her. More than me.

Jayce grew breasts one night the summer between elementary school and junior high. So began her foray into the world of bad girl-dom.

I was a good girl, a nerd, an A plus student. Running with Jayce and Kelly allowed me to take a trip to the dark side, the side with cigarettes and drinking and Jayce’s stories of the boys who felt her up in her backyard at night.

Every so often I would cut school and take the ferry from Staten Island into Manhattan with Kelly and Jayce. Crowded anonymous Manhattan was the perfect setting in which to learn shoplifting techniques.

Kelly taught me how to locate the “blind spot” in a department store, where security cameras can’t see you. To use the receipt from a purchase to go back into the store and walk out with the same item, unpaid.

She taught me how to go up to the jewelry counter at a department store, and confidently ask to see watches – and then pocket one practically right under the salesperson’s nose.

That was one of my favorite moves. I have to punch myself in the face to stop myself from pulling that one in a crowded Nordstrom’s at Christmas time.


Kelly was a loving daughter, a devoted sister and a total delinquent. Her parents owned a little beach house on the Jersey shore, which Kelly used to break into routinely and rob. And leave notes apologizing.

I spent three years in junior high under Kellys’ expert tutelage. I was an avid shoplifter all through college. I hate to write that I’ve never been caught, because even though it’s the truth, I feel as though it will jinx me.

Jayce turned into a full-blown bad girl in high school. I was still trying to color inside the lines at that point and we never spoke after the ninth grade but we nodded hello to one another every morning, when I passed her outside the high school. All school year long she stood outside with the other degenerates before class, smoking cigarettes and weed.

One day, in my junior year of high school, the phone rang. It was Jayce. She hadn’t called my house in years. I knew why she was calling, before she even said it.

Kelly had died. She drowned in the bathtub early one morning, while high on heroin.

My heart broke into a million pieces. My mom wept bitterly. I reconnected with Jayce then, briefly, but intensely. My mother and I spent all three days sitting with her family at Kelly’s wake.

Back at school, we resumed only our nod ‘hello’ in the morning. The last time I saw her was the day of my high school graduation.

I heard through the grapevine that Jayce got married and had kids almost right out of high school. I never spoke to her again.

I haven’t even thought of her or her sister in years.

But this morning, when I put on my stolen lipstick, I though of Kelly, Fagin to my Artful Dodger. And I wrote this story in her memory.

Did you ever shoplift? What other delinquent activities did you engage in?
Can I call you if I need bail money?
Talk to me. I’m listening.

Follow me on Instagram. I take pictures in superhero underwear because I crave validation.