When I was very young, I’m guessing about 8 or 9-years-old, I stole money from my mom.
I had watched her in the past hide cash in a vase above her dresser, underneath a flower arrangement.
One day, my friends Hossanah and Michael and I ran out of quarters at the local arcade, and it occurred to me that I could easily peel off a dollar from that wad of money; mom would never notice.
I ran home, and instead grabbed five single dollars. We changed them in and played video games all afternoon, even splurging for some slurpees for our walk home.
A few days later, I did it again. Then, the next day I went to get more money and all of the small bills were gone. I took a twenty instead. We played Pac-Man and Asteroids for hours, and then went to Holiday Mart and bought a toy Pepsi machine and a remote-control car. I don’t recall how many days, or exactly many dollars I eventually went through, but I do remember getting caught.
I was at Hossanah and Michael’s house when my mom called. Hossanah handed the big, black rotary dial phone receiver to me and I was told to come home “NOW!” in a very angry voice.
My mom was in tears. That money was for our rent on our apartment, and now we were very, very short. She was emptying her spare handbags and piling loose change on the bed while sobbing.
I felt awful. Terrible. Hated. I felt like she should hit me, spank me, throw me out the 3-story window. Anything would feel better than the betrayal that I had just caused her to feel and the despair that was so apparent on her face.
The young man who stole out of our tip jar not too long ago came in again recently. He had changed his bleached blonde hair to a more normal brown color, and was wearing respectable clothes. It was his lisp that reminded me who he was.
“You colored your hair,” I said.
His eyes widened, and POW! I realized that yes, this was the same kid.
“You stole out of the tip jar! How dare you? Get out of here. NOW!” I demanded, walking from behind the counter. I followed him outside and told him that he was never to step foot on our property again as he jogged away.
A group of people come in to a restaurant and one of the servers decides to not charge these customers for a few of their beers; the people are “friends”.
While clocked-in and the bosses are away, an employee sips on a lemonade while reading the newspaper.
Every one of these instances is an example of theft.
When I purposefully took money from my mom, I knew it was wrong, but figured that there was so many individual dollar bills, she’d never notice. When the kid took money out of the tip jar, he probably felt the same way. When a server comps a few beers, my guess would be it’s because it’s presumed that there are so many beers, the employer won’t notice. When an employee is relaxing while on the clock, it is costing the employer money which is a theft of its own.
Unless the person feels remorse, it is almost guaranteed to happen again.
Getting caught won’t fix anything. Understanding why the act is theft, and feeling guilty about it is the only cure to having it not happen again.