The Truth About Shoplifting

I went shoplifting last Tuesday and since then I have been swotting up on shoplifting skills and techniques.  These are my tips for shoplifters:

  1. Be overt to be covert.   Don’t bother with the rucksack, or the large winter coat, or the sunglasses, or the empty handbag strategically positioned in your shopping trolly.  I placed my item on the canopy of the buggy, in plain sight.  No-one batted an eye lid. I walked straight out of John Lewis. 
  2. Don’t over-act when selecting your item.  When you pick up the item you are going to steal,  don’t tap it, wiggle it, play with it nervously, look around you like everything is cool.  Think about what you would normally do when buying an item.  You see the item.  You check the price.  You pick up the one in a different colour to compare. You choose one of the items, or both and you put the item on the canopy of your buggy.  I saw my christmas puddings, checked the price, decided to buy them, placed them on the buggy.  Easy. 
  3. Don’t be nervous or shifty.  Remember that a normal shopper will pay little or no attention to people around them.  A nervous shoplifter will turn their head and look at everyone who passes them by.  A normal shopper will have no idea where any of the CCTV cameras are, but a nervous shoplifter will have clocked all of the CCTV cameras and all of the John Lewis employees.  I got full marks in this area.  I have absolutely no idea where any of the CCTV cameras are or where any of the John Lewis employees were, except at the pay points obviously, which clearly, being a shoplifter, I avoided.

Do you want to know how I became a shoplifter last Tuesday? 

It was my day off work.  Cygnet was asleep in the buggy. I decided to take the opportunity to do a bit of sales shopping in the John Lewis clearance.  I was wandering round their Christmas department.  Some christmas puddings caught my eye.  Yes, you read that correctly, some christmas puddings.  They are my weakness.  You cannot beat christmas pudding with left over brandy butter…in the middle of January.

These christmas puddings came in a box of three and were brandy flavour, cranberry and orange flavour and cherry and amaretto flavour.  I thoroughly enjoyed them.  There were originally £15 for three which is extortionately expensive, so unsurprisingly John Lewis had hundreds of boxes in their clearance sale, marked down to £3.75.  Bargain or what?   

I picked them off the shelf, read the flavours, read the price, decided to buy them, wavered and put them back on the shelf, but then reminded myself that I haven’t been so stupid as to put dieting on my new year’s resolutions list and placed the christmas puddings on the still slightly wet from the rain canopy of the buggy. 

I then went to John Lewis café.  Now, as every mother knows, when a child is asleep in the buggy, you have make the most of the hour or so to have a nice cup of tea, or in my case a nice cup of tea with a scone with jam and cream. 

I asked the lady in the café whether I could pay for my christmas puddings with my tea and scone.  She politely informed me that I had to pay for my items in the main store.  I drank my tea and ate my scone.  Cygnet woke up just as I was finishing the last bite which was a real result because it meant I didn’t have to share it.  Unfortunately, Cygnet was in a right grumps and had a tantrum, leaving me apologising profusely to the women to my left who were having a civilised chat over a John Lewis caesar salad, and receiving empathetic looks from the mums to my right who were feeding their pre-schoolers.    I wrestled Cygnet back into the buggy and left John Lewis as quickly as I could.

It wasn’t until I was half way home (a forty minute walk in the spitting rain) that I realised that I hadn’t paid for my christmas puddings.  I stopped.  Should I turn back?  I probably should have, but I didn’t.  Cygnet, having not shared my scone was hungry and still grumpy.  He wanted his tea. I carried on walking home. 

I have never intentionally stolen anything in my life. 

Well that is not quite true.  When I was about eight and was out with my grandmother and sister, I stole a penny sweet from the local corner shop.  Do you remember black jacks?  They were black, they were liquorice flavoured, turned your tongue black and were wrapped in black and white paper.  Well I stole a black jack.  My grandmother, ever vigilant and cunning, spotted this and also clocked me subtly trying to unwrap said black jack one handed in my pocket as we walked home. 

She frog marched me back to the corner shop, made me hand over the black jack (half unwrapped, the shop owner was not impressed) and apologise to for steeling.  I cannot tell you how ashamed I was.  Well you can probably guess how ashamed I was.  I am now 35. 27 years later and the incident is still fresh in my mind.   

I have pondered returning to John Lewis with the christmas pudding packets (I have since eaten the christmas puddings) to confess and to pay up.  But after much pondering, I have decided that my £3.75 is not going to affect John Lewis’ profit margins.  I have decided to give the money to charity.  I don’t know which one yet.  It will probably be whichever collection tin shaker approaches me first.  I am sure John Lewis won’t mind.  I do indulge in an overpriced scone with jam and cream on every visit. 

Have you ever shoplifted, intentionally or otherwise?  

And then the fun began...


  1. January 19, 2016 / 10:39 pm

    Ha ha, hilarious! I’m sure we’ve all done a little bit of inadvertent shop lifting when we’ve been dealing with grumpy babies and toddlers. I wouldn’t feel too bad about it!! I’m sure John Lewis have a budget line which allows for ‘distracted or harassed inadvertently shop-lifting mothers’ 😉
    Sue @ Home Heart Harmony recently posted…2016 Home GoalsMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      January 19, 2016 / 10:56 pm

      I hope so. As I say, I am sure I make up for it by being a regular in their coffee shop. Thanks for reading and for your comment.

  2. January 20, 2016 / 9:27 pm

    Accidentally “shoplifted” some bananas in my local cooperative which S conveniently put in the basket of his (then) tricycle! I live right by it so went in the next day and handed over my £1!! Don’t think I’d have walked all the way back to John Lewis in the rain though x
    Natasha recently posted…Dear Dad at soft playMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      January 20, 2016 / 9:30 pm

      Ah, you are a better person than me! Well done. x

  3. January 21, 2016 / 9:51 pm

    I used to put JJ in his baby carseat into one of those mid-size supermarket trolleys and stuff the shopping in around him and yes, a couple of times I found an unexpected pouch of Ella’s Kitchen puree underneath but I figured if they’re never going put any kind of discount on formula then I deserve a break somewhere along the line (having said that I did breastfeed for 20 weeks!). Thanks for linking up to #thetruthabout this week Pen X
    Sam recently posted…The Truth about… #60My Profile

    • thesingleswan
      January 22, 2016 / 9:16 pm

      Hi Sam,

      It’s a pleasure. I may see you next week too. Pen x

    • thesingleswan
      February 14, 2016 / 10:13 pm

      thanks love. x

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