I committed my first crime when I was in elementary school. I learned that, if you have to go to jail, steal more than a couple Life Savers. The people inside aren’t real impressed by that.
In my defense 1) the package of Lifesavers was already open; 2) there was no evidence it belonged to the store–it could have been left behind by someone by accident; and 3) I was just a kid so it all made sense.
I helped myself to a couple and my “friend” whose name I’ve long forgotten, reported me to my mom who reported me to the manager of the store. I remember feeling ashamed but I don’t remember anything I was told by anyone at that point. I also don’t remember where it happened.
Then, in high school, I robbed a CD shop. In my defense, the store manager was in on it. I was editor of the high school paper and, in a fit of madness, I thought it would be interesting if we robbed a store as a group and then wrote about it. I was then informed by the school newspaper adviser that it would probably be best if we arranged such things with the store manager in advance.
I still disagree with that conclusion, but went ahead and arranged it.
Three of us went into the store and looked around and, in the end, because I was technically an experienced criminal, I was the only one who actually took something. The others chickened out (which also became part of the story). I then left the store and was chased down by some young lass who caught me in a different store and ripped my jacket open. The moment of panic when she didn’t see the stolen CD remains a priceless memory. She popped another button and found the purloined CD.
(Note to people under a certain age: music used to be sold on small discs from actual stores. This way singers and bands could sell a bunch of crap along with a few good songs to make you think you’d bought something special.)
The brave employee took me to the manager who then described what would have happened to me if I’d actually been caught shoplifting. (The description was similar to things that would eventually happen to characters in Sons of Anarchy.) He also praised his employee for doing her job perfectly. Later, after she’d calmed down, I went back and interviewed her.
It all made an for an interesting experience but I’m still trying to remember if I gave the CD back or not.