When my son Louis was little, maybe three or four, we spent a weekend in Bath with friends. When we got back to the motorhome I saw him engrossed in playing with some unfamiliar objects. ‘What are they/’ I said. I looked closely and they were a couple of cheap keyrings from the Roman Baths souvenir shop. No money had passed hands. ‘They’re mine.’ he said but quite obviously he’d nicked them.

Determine to nip in the bud my son’s life as a future criminal I came down hard. ‘You’re giving them back to the shop.’ I said. ‘We’ll see what they want to do about it.’ ‘What will happen to me?’ said Louis on the way back into town. ‘Will I go to prison?’ ‘I’m not sure.’ I told him. I hammed it up every time I heard a police siren. ‘They may have told the cops already.’

When we got back to the shop Louis approached the man at the counter. ‘These accidentally fell in my pocket.’ he told him. The guy gave Louis a long hard stern look and then let him go. ‘Thank you.’ he mouthed to me. Louis doesn’t remember a great deal from his early childhood years but he recalls this incident. Needless to say the thieving has never resumed.

This mug wasn’t really nicked from work. I found it in the charity shop for a couple of quid and couldn’t resist. It can be Mr Metrosexual’s mug when he pops around for his Early Grey and a chat. No, I don’t do theft myself. It’s not a fear of getting caught that stops me but genuine regard for the property of others. The nearest I’ve come though is taking a few cuttings from someone else’s massive rosemary and sage bushes that were overhanging the path at the allotments. I’m not losing sleep so it must be okay. They’re doing well.

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  1. My only foray into shoplifting was a reel of yellow sticky tape with Santas on it. I felt so guilty after taking it, I couldn’t use it. Stealing from my mother’s purse was different, however…I didn’t get much pocket money so I justified it that way, by saying it was just bringing my pocket money up to scratch. I still remember stealing a half-crown (2/6d) and buying five cream cakes (only 6d each?!) and eating them all in the park. A thief AND a glutton!!

    • Ah you brought it back to me. I did steal sweeties from the tin in the pantry because they were rationed by my mum. Must have been justifying that in a similar way!

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