What's the Best Thing You've Ever Stolen?
Photo by Kim Alaniz
The other night, a gang of armed men held up a van at Brussels airport and stole £30 million worth of gems as they were being loaded on to a plane, which isn't a bad little haul. But that probably doesn't even compare to the time you stole those luminescent bug sunglasses from Topman in 2003, huh?
We wanted to know what your proudest moment of thievery is, so we went to ask people on the streets of London a question: what's the best thing you've ever stolen?
Charlie, 22, photographer: I haven’t stolen anything ever. Honestly! I've never stolen anything.
I don’t believe you. What about as kid? Surely you stole something?
Well, OK, maybe like a chocolate bar, or something, which – you know – is just a little bit of chocolate. But this depends if you mean stealing from, like, stores or shops or from someone you know?
Anyone, anywhere or anything.
Okay, well, I used to live in Kent and there was this girl there who used to make lemonade – homemade lemonade – and we always used to steal it. That was really bad.
That’s horrible. Was it a kid?
No, no, no, she wasn’t a kid. She basically owned a farm, so it's not like she was struggling for money, or anything. I wouldn’t have done it if she was a four-year-old girl saving up to sail off to Disneyland. It was just a casual, part-time stealing of some lemonade. I felt bad about it, but it tasted so good and it was hot, so whatever.
If you could steal anything in the world and get away with it what would it be?
Well, if you're going to steal anything you may as well go big, right? So probably the crown jewels, or something, and go down in history.
Tara, 23, student: I don’t know, actually. Something from a shop, I guess.
Did you ever feel bad about it?
Not really. I would only ever do it from shops that I thought could afford it, not – you know – small independent shops. Just the big corporate shops, I guess. Oh, I did steal cheese from supermarkets. My friends and I used to have this thing about stealing cheese.
At least you ate well.
Oh yeah. If you’re going to do it, you might as well do it well. Actually, we also used to steal foie gras from the supermarkets where I grew up in France. That’s probably the worst thing I've ever stolen. It was quite expensive, but again, if you’re going to do it, do it well.
What do you think of stealing in general?
It's bad if it hurts people, but I don’t know – some people shouldn’t have things they don’t need. Mind you, if someone stole my cheese, I'd be upset. But then I'd think, 'Well, maybe that person really needed that cheese' and I’d maybe be a little less upset.
At least you think these things through.
Kieran, 35, "airport thief": Everything I've stolen has been pretty good. Mind you, I don't think I've stolen anything since I was a kid. I used to steal stuff I wanted but couldn't afford, like magazines and records.
A lot of people steal stuff they can't afford, weirdly. Did you ever feel bad?
At the time, no, but that was before the morality gene kicked in. It was 20 years ago, though, and I haven't done it since. Actually, there was one time I was delayed at the airport and I'd accidentally checked my wallet in with my luggage, so I had to relieve some things of their place in the shops, but that's only because I was there for eight hours with no food. It was life or death.
Did you feel bad that time?
No, I felt fine. It was one of the big chains, so I didn’t feel so bad. I thought they could probably spare it for a starving person in an airport who wasn't going to get any help from the people in charge.
So stealing from big companies is OK?
There's always that mentality of, 'Why support a system that doesn't support you?' You have to think that companies or people who get to the top of them aren’t always right or squeaky clean, but – at the same time – there are better ways than just stealing stuff. Well, most of the time.
Louis, 21, student: I stole a £160 pound jacket from Brick Lane market.
Damn, son. How do you feel about that?
Really bad, but also happy. Actually, I didn't really feel bad at all, thinking about it. Everyone deserves what they want in life and I wanted the jacket – why should I have to work to pay for it?
Didn’t you feel bad for the guy who was selling it?
Well, it was a girl that was selling it to me, and no. She wasn’t there, hence why I stole it. She probably wouldn’t have noticed, either – it’s a big rack of jackets.
Do you think it's OK to steal off rich people?
No. I’m not like a modern day Robin Hood, or anything.
You're a reverse Robin Hood? You steal from poor people?
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