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The Fashion Thief Stole My Identity

You'd think a famous criminal would do something more with that than just get a tattoo.

Liz Armstrong

I’m not sure how stupid you’d have to be to steal my wallet and charge a $326 tattoo on my debit card, but I knew I was going to find out. Two days after it happened, I was right: the District Attorney’s office called and was basically like, "Check the New York Post today. We found your credit card." I was the unnamed “victim” in their main crime story. Kevahn Thorpe, aka the Fashion Thief—so named for his addiction to designer label items and his manner of procuring them—was busted for allegedly impersonating me and using my debit card to get the Yves Saint Laurent logo tattooed on his neck.

This whole thing started when the wife of one of my best friends called me to say me he’d been shot in front of their house in New Orleans. He was OK, but he had some major surgery. Right after he was released from the hospital I went down there to help take care of him. While it’s truly an honor to know you’re someone’s pillar of trust, that was a heavy experience. So when I got back home to New York, I needed to elevate my mood. Off with me to the gay dance club.

At the Stonewall, where I showed up for a queer librarian benefit party, I met a blond mathematician. We danced and made out, and then I checked my bag and realized my wallet was gone. Great, I thought, my friend was shot, and now I’ve been robbed. Well, what matters most in life is life itself, and the precious time we have to celebrate it, so might as well smooch on this girl for another ten minutes before going home like a responsible person to cancel all my cards.

Two days later I got a text from my mom: “Please call me immediately.” That is never a good text, as it generally means grandma died. Panicked, I called back within five seconds.

“So did you have a good time last weekend?” she asked.

“Um, yeah?”

“What did you do?”

I told her I went out dancing, that I stayed out late.

“And you got a big tattoo, huh?”

What? Oh shit.

She and I share an emergency account and there’s usually no money in there. Apparently whoever stole my wallet went right around the corner to Whatever Tattoo II and (allegedly) bought themselves some gay thief permanent body art at about 3 AM.

I knew that tattoo had to be good. Horrifically good. Epic. I spent the day at work fantasizing: Tweety tap dancing on a rainbow? A bas-relief portrait of Cher?

When I got home I had some messages from the DA’s office telling me we needed to speak about an urgent matter.

Have you ever had that “What?” feeling where everyone around you knows exactly what’s going on but no one will tell you quite what it is, you just have to guess? That’s what the conversation felt like. They didn’t tell me too much, except that they’d found my credit cards and that it was a “highly unusual” case that had already received a lot of press. I rattled off everything that was taken from me, and approximate value, and then they told me to go check the New York Post.

According to press and past convictions, Thorpe’s stolen from countless stores—Prada, Gucci, Barneys, Bergdorf—as well as people to support his devotion to fashion. Just to class it up a bit, he’d already gotten a Fendi logo tattoo on one side of his neck. He became a free advertisement for the thing Karl Lagerfeld does that no one really gives a shit about earlier the same week he was busted with my credit card.

As the story (allegedly) goes, when Thorpe came into Whatever Tattoo a second time, for his YSL branding, they recognized that the name on the card—Elizabeth Armstrong—most likely did not match the visage of the person standing in front of them. Apparently they stalled him, secretly called the cops, charged him, and watched him sign my name on the receipt. Now he’s in serious trouble for alleged impersonation and alleged thievery.

In a certain way, I feel for the kid. I know the power I felt the time I walked into the Yves Saint Laurent shop and walked out with a handbag. The difference was that I paid for it. And it took me seven years to feel confident enough to bust it out in public. Maybe if I stole it I’d have more swagger.

Last I knew Thorpe was held on bail for $20,000 and had a hearing coming up. This I knew from the media. I signed a bunch of paperwork saying I didn’t feel like showing up in court unless absolutely necessary, and that no, I did not sign that receipt. It’s been months. I asked the DA what was going on and got a message back that they’re still working on the defense. At some point I’ll likely have to take the stand in New York Supreme Court.

Knowing I’m a writer, the DA's office did, however, tell me it’d be in my best interest to keep all this quiet, as the defense team may use anything I write against me. Well, sorry to disappoint anyone but there will be no Legally Blonde moment here: I’m already out, and I was doing what everyone does late at night at a club, which is not casing the place for thieves, just having fun, sucking face.

Since I’ve already admitted I went to a queer librarian party, allow me one indulgence in geek metaphors so that I can wrap all this up. In Season Five of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, we meet Dawn, introduced as Buffy’s sister. Dawn is also The Key—a portal that will allow a great beast to enter its mother dimension and devour the entire universe. I’m the key here. If this guy goes down, and it’s likely if the charges stick he’s going away for a long time, it’s because of me.

And like Dawn, I didn’t ask to be the key. I am not seeking any personal damages against this kid. He’s only 20, maybe 21? In fact, I asked the DA if I could suggest “creative sentencing,” as prison is a really nasty place, and I wish it on no one. I was told no, it’s up to the law, not me. So no charges pressed, buddy. Surely a Fashion Thief would know a Comme des Garçons wallet upon sight. I would really like that back.

http://twitter.com/lizzyarmstrong