The Time I Got Caught Shoplifting: A Lesson For Your Teenagers

The Time I Got Caught Shoplifting: A Lesson For Your Teenagers

I want to share with you a story that is actually a rather embarrassing black mark on my life that I normally don’t talk about. However, I feel that if I share this story, about the time I got caught shoplifting, then perhaps somebody out there might read it and realize just how dumb it can be to fall victim to peer pressure. It’s okay to say no to some things. In the end, you will be better off for it. Don’t be scared to be an individual and stand out from the crowd. It’s usually those types of people who make the biggest differences in humanity.

The Time I Got Caught Shoplifting: A Lesson For Your Teenagers

The Time I Got Caught Shoplifting: A Lesson For Your Teenagers

When I was sixteen years old, I was running around with some, well, let’s say shady people. Now, I won’t say that they were the worst types of people. Most of them have grown up to be good people, but at the time they were into things that they shouldn’t have been into, and they took me along with them. I am not excusing myself either. I had the power to say no, too, but I felt I needed their acceptance to feel like one of the crowd.

Anyway, we were running around doing things we shouldn’t have been doing. I will freely admit that we stole things and pulled cruel pranks on people, things that were tasteless as well as illegal. So, one time, we were in a local convenience store after school. We came to this store quite often and, on one occasion or another, one of us would walk out with something that we didn’t pay for in our coats. On this day, I felt it was my turn. So, I stuck two candy bars in my coat pockets. Unbeknownst to me, the store manager was watching me from behind the drink cooler. He saw me and quickly had me brought back into the store when we started to leave. There I was, standing in the back of the store trying to explain myself to the store manager and, eventually, the local police.

I was scared beyond belief. I shook like a leaf in a windstorm. I didn’t know what to say and, what was the scariest thing of all, was that I didn’t know how to explain this to my parents. They had always thought of me as the good kid. I had never done anything wrong (that they knew of) and now here I was caught just plain stealing.

When the police arrived, the cop asked me how old I was. When I told him I was sixteen, he responded, “Just old enough to go to jail.” I was dumbfounded. My throat was dry, my hands wringing wet with sweat and my heart was pounding, throbbing in my ears like a big bass drum.

I was going to jail.

Fortunately, he didn’t arrest me. He took me straight to the Magistrate’s office, where they gave me a ticket and set me up with a court date. Afterwards, I had to walk back to my high school and figure out a ride home, since I had been riding with my so-called friends, who took off the moment I got stopped. Fortunately, my dad thought that I was staying after school for a function and came to pick me up. Unfortunately, I got to tell him on the way home that I had been caught shoplifting.

When I got back home, needless to say, my parents were very upset and disappointed. They sat me down and talked to me. I will never forget the tears in my mom’s eyes as she sat there wondering why I did this. My dad said something that has stuck with me all these years. He said, “I always thought that you were so good. I never dreamed of you doing anything like this. This has burst a huge bubble for me with you, and it is going to take a lot of time for you to repair it.”

My mom blamed herself. She said, “Where did I go wrong? Is is money you need? I would much rather give up my lunch money so that you could have a candy bar or two than for you to resort to stealing.”

I guess the thing that hurt me the most was when they brought my grandfather into it. We always called him Big Daddy. Dad said, “Big Daddy worships the ground you walk on. You are his favorite grandson. What do you think he is going to think when he finds this out?” That was more than I could handle. I broke down and started crying right then and there. Big Daddy was my idol, the man that I aspired to be. It still hurts to this day because he passed away not too long after that, and one of my last memories was of him driving me to my first day of community service for this crime.

I have never felt so ashamed.

I was sentenced to forty hours of community service, which I served in one week and my parents had to pay all court costs, about $300 total. I learned my lesson that day and I have never stolen anything since. I quit hanging out with that crowd and became a more responsible person. I am not perfect by any means, and of course I still make mistakes on a daily basis. However, we are supposed to learn from our mistakes, and I did learn from that one. I am here now to teach someone else my lesson.

I hope and pray that this helps someone out there from doing the same stupid thing that I did. Please, if you are hanging out with people who want you to do things that you know are wrong for to earn their acceptance, stop hanging out with them today. At least don’t be scared to tell them no. That one event changed the course of my life in many ways. I was lucky that it made me a better person. Others may not be that lucky. It’s best to walk away from it now than to be stuck paying for it later.

Have You Ever Been Caught Shoplifting?

Have you ever been caught shoplifting or doing anything else illegal? How did it turn out for you? Did you learn any valuable lessons from the experience? If so, we would love to hear about it in the comments below.

About Jay Crawford

Jay enjoys cooking, music {his favorite artists are KISS, Def Leppard, the Eagles and a lot of the newer country music}, and sports {Carolina Panthers, Tarheels and the Appalachian State Mountaineers}. He also enjoys grilling out and cruising around with the radio up and the windows down.


  1. OMG I do have a shoplifting story and I also had to do community service and it saved my life. I never did it again. I was like you my family thought I was just the good child, but sometimes that kind of pressure and perception makes you a little rebellious. I am so happy you also learned your lesson from this. We have all been young and dumb before.

  2. I’m so glad you shared this. Although most of us won’t admit it, MOST of us have a story similar to this in our childhood. Even if we never got caught, and we never got found out… most of us still have one.

  3. Reesa Lewandowski says:

    I think a lot of kids have a story like this from their teenager years. One of the worst feelings is disappointing your parents.

  4. I remember my friend from high school coming home with a story of shoplifting. It was a chocolate bar from a drugstore and she got fined $300 for it!

  5. You know, I think we’ve all had stupid moments as teens where we felt the need to impress or didn’t think the rules applied to us. I know I did some stupid things, but thankfully we grow up and grow out of that behavior. At least most of us do. I’m glad you shared your story because it will help teens out there realize that a lot of this behavior just isn’t worth the time or the dent in their reputation and that it can even prevent them from getting jobs they might want if they have something like that on their record.

  6. Pam Wattenbarger says:

    It’s amazing how one decision like this can impact your life so much. It seems so little at the time but the consequences certainly aren’t.

  7. I can’t say that I have done this but, it’s incredibly brave of you to tell your story so that others learn. I don’t think teens know the implications it could potentially have on your life.

  8. Julie Porter says:

    I think we all have stories of the stupid things we have done as teenagers, whether we got caught or not. Thankfully this experience taught you an important lesson and perhaps someone reading this can learn the lesson without going through the painful experience. Thank you for sharing your story with us.

  9. How crazy that you remember all of the details. It must have been such a scary time… but you seemed to have learned a good lesson out of it.

  10. It’s awesome that you were willing to share this. These things do tend to teach us lessons we don’t forget!

  11. Of course, I don’t have a story like this… Not that I’ll admit too. Many young people have experienced peer pressure. You were blessed as you valued your Big Daddy’s opinion of you more than the opinion of your peers. This may not be the case for everyone thus people going down different paths.

  12. Robin Rue says:

    I think we have all thought to take just a little something it one time or another. This life lesson can definitely impact a young person.

  13. We all make mistakes, some worse than others. I think life lessons like this are actually important since they are what shape our morals and values going into adulthood.

  14. I also got caught stealing something from the store when I was 15 but I actually did get cuffed and hauled off to jail. I didn’t have community service, but I did have to pay the store I believe $150 in restitution. Last time I ever thought about taking something that didn’t belong to me!

  15. Ann Bacciaglia says:

    I have always been to terrified of getting in trouble to shoplift. I was at the Mall when we were in grade 9 and my friends decided to steal. I got questioned when they got caught and that was enough for me.

  16. Elizabeth O. says:

    I’ve never went through this in my life but I can understand why a 16-year old would do it. Peer pressure is a serious thing and all teenagers go through it. I’m sorry you had to experience this but it’s also a good lesson. I think it’s great that you shared this with us, there are teenagers out there who might relate to this and decide not to succumb to peer pressure.

  17. kelly reci says:

    I salute you for sharing this story. not everybody with similar story has a guts to share and post it! I believe many of teenagers already did what you have done. It’s a life lesson to teach to your future family.

  18. Our Family World says:

    Sometimes teenagers were been bad but it does not always mean that they’re bad! Sometimes they considered it as a fun but the important was you’ve learned from that lesson.

  19. Victoria Heckstall says:

    Mostly, teenagers had gone in this situation. I believe if you have a lot of friends it’s a part of teenager life. Every bad situation taught us good lesson.

  20. That’s such a powerful story with a message to a lot of kids out there about the friends that they choose to hang out with. It’s not important to be called or considered cool, that won’t matter later in life. Peer pressure is tough though and as parents we really have to guide our kids towards the right path. I really appreciate you sharing your story.

  21. Thanks for sharing your story. I hope teenagers will learn from other’s experiences and think twice before they do anything.

  22. I’ve never went through this but I could imagine it must be a scariest time ever for you. Good to know that it changed you to be a better person. Thanks for sharing your story.

  23. Sounds like you went through a tough “life lesson” as my husband said his father called such events.
    I know my husbands brothers used to be a bit rowdy and totalled a car once.

  24. I have a similar experience and it changed my life. Its something I wouldn’t change either I dont think because it really made me stop the path I was going and my life could have ended up so different. That scares me.

  25. Thanks for sharing your personal story in the hopes that maybe it might prevent a teen from going down this same path. I think sometimes our transgressions are our greatest teachers and they instill us with the lessons we need to move through this world.

  26. We joke that we hope our children don’t end up like me as a teenager because I definitely made some stupid choices. Knowing that our parents are people who lived, made mistakes, and learned from them is important. I hope that can share my stories with my children like you shared

  27. The thought of getting arrested and having to tell my parents was enough for me to never do anything like this. I get why kids do it, peer pressure can be hard to resist, but the consequences are not worth it. Thanks for sharing your story. We all make mistakes as kids, and as long as you learn from it or help someone else learn a lesson, isn’t such a bad thing in the end.

  28. This is such an awesome post. My best friend growing up, her dad was a cop. We used to run around at all hours of the night/morning. There was one time one of the officers took us home. When I was in 6th grade another friend and I were shoplifting, she got caught and I walked on out of the store. I sat and waited for her thinking they would let her go for some dumb 99cent pin. Cops came. We later found out the store had called her mom and her mom said to call the cops. I was thankful she never ratted me out.

  29. Dana Vento says:

    The most important thing about these stories is that we know the why’s and that it’s generally accepted as wrong. Your post acknowledges it and that’s why it’s effective to be read by our young people.

  30. I can only imagine how scared you were at that time. This story is a life lesson.

  31. I’m sure your post will help other teenagers who are in the same situation. I’ve never shoplifted before but a friend of mine did and she was scared out of her mind when she got caught.

  32. That took so much courage and strength. Best wishes to you.

  33. I am glad that you are able to come out of such a negative path as we all learn best lessons out of every mistake we make in our life. I admire your for the way you have shared it & I am sure this could inspire many!

  34. So brave of you to share despite the incident having happened all those years ago, as a lesson to others to not allow peer pressure to get to them. “Bad company corrupts good morals,” this was pumped into us in school and I was always thought what the heck does that mean, Til I grew up. Now I share the same with my little ones.
    So glad your youth experience made you the person you are!

  35. I think almost all teenagers have stories like this because it’s at this time when there are a lot of experiementations and that wrong sense of adventure.