Here, in his own words, is what the life of a professional shoplifter looks like.
I am not your typical shoplifter. I look respectable. I dress cleanly and smartly, wear glasses and am in my early 40s. I have a nice manner, a bald patch, a friendly voice. Occasionally, I would try to reason why I was doing it to myself, to my family. Maybe I was having a mid-life crisis. I was 42 and feeling overweight. Maybe I was missing my dad, who had died a few years before. Maybe I was missing a lost love, who had lately returned to her ex, leaving me adrift. Or maybe I was just bored…
…it was the excruciating embarrassment that brought matters to a close. It is embarrassing when you can’t go out for a meal with a new girlfriend or buy your ex-stepchild a birthday toy. I couldn’t focus on anything, couldn’t look anyone in the face. In two years I had lost all my money, quite a lot of other people’s money, my self-respect and my sense of humour. I had become the sort of person I would normally avoid. That was one of the worst things, the self-loathing that built up with every stupid grab and stash. I wanted to feel normal, to regain my own trust, to like myself again.
He’s eighteen months clean. So far, so good.
[note that for once we’re not linking the image to the website we got the image from: that one is an internet gambling site and we decided it would not be a healthy choice. Instead, we’ve linked the image to the Canada Safety Council’s page on gambling addiction and suicide]