People steal for all types of reasons. Maybe they're embarrassed by what they're buying, maybe they're low on cash, or maybe they're just looking for some excitement. Sometimes it's not why they steal that's interesting, but what they steal or how it happens. The people who witness this often have seen some crazy stuff.
We wanted to find the best stories out there about the weirdest things that have been stolen, so we looked throughout Reddit and found the craziest stealing situations. This content was edited for clarity.
He Wanted Options!
“At McRae’s (now Belk), two guys drove up to the parking lot entrance at closing. The driver parked, the passenger got out, opened the back, ran inside, grabbed the first rack of plus-sized dresses he saw (hideous ones at that), and ran out with the whole thing and stuffed them into the back of their vehicle and fled. It was hilarious.
I should clarify. The guy took the clothes AND the metal rack they were hanging on. The guy stole the whole rack. Clothes and the tall metal dress rack. So funny.”
.59 Cents Led To Jail Time
“I worked in a grocery store and was talking to one of our many LPO’s (Loss Prevention Officers) and he was telling me about an arrest he made. He started watching a guy that looked like he might steal something and sure enough, he did. This guy ended up stealing .59 cents worth of yeast. He had some other things from a different store but the LPO forgot what they were. Once the guy left the store, the LPO made the arrest and brought the suspect back to the security room and started writing him up and such. The LPO called the cops and once they eventually arrived they searched the guy up on their system, he was wanted on a Canadian warrant for assault and attempted murder. There were a few minor things he was also wanted for but in short, this guy was rather dangerous.”
Everyone Stole From This Store
“I worked at a major hardware store and I’ve gained a lot of stories over the last few years. We once had a person steal a full-sized, one-piece fiberglass tub filled with everything he needed to install it (faucet, fittings, etc). The real kicker is no one noticed until he was already gone. He just loaded it up onto a cart, walked right out the door as if he had just purchased it, and even got an employee to help him load it.
Another time, we were having a morning meeting and two men came in while all of the employees were all standing up at customer service. They went straight to the seasonal department, grabbed two big chainsaws each, and proceeded to march right back out the entrance doors. They were able to do this five or six times in different hardware stores around the area without ever getting caught as far as I know.
My favorite story, though, is the man who got caught stealing copper and brass fittings. When the loss prevention manager brought him in the back to question him, he discovered that the man had sewn pockets inside his pants and jacket so he was completely lined with 40+ pounds of copper fittings. Even if he was discrete about stealing them, the fact that he was jingling as he walked around the store was a dead giveaway. What was his reason for taking them? He wanted to melt the copper down and sell it on the street.”
He Shouldn’t Be In The Ladies Dressing Room…
“I worked retail for three years and I literally watched a guy stuff a PS3 controller down his pants. We weren’t allowed to confront anyone or do anything until they left the building, so I alerted Loss Prevention and followed him to the front door. He walked as casual as could be until he got to the front door then took the controller out of his pants, threw it on the floor and sprinted out the door yelling, ‘I DIDN’T STEAL ANYTHING! I KNOW MY RIGHTS, I KNOW MY RIGHTS!!!’ I just stood there dumbfounded, then chuckled at how ridiculous it was.
Sad thing is, even if he HAD left the building with it, the most I could do to him after he left was walk outside and ask him if he needed help with anything. If I wanted to get real ballsy, I could ask to see his receipt, but even if he straight up admitted to me he didn’t have one, there was absolutely nothing I was allowed to do. Only the store manager or LP could say or do anything about theft.
One day, we also had a middle-aged Indian man acting very suspicious in the ladies underwear department. We assumed he was stealing things just because he had no cart, no basket, and nervously looked back and forth anytime we’d walk by. Eventually, he somehow disappeared until we later saw him walking out of the dressing room. Checked the dressing room (people who steal usually leave the hangers/tags in the dressing rooms which actually helps us at least estimate how big the losses were) only to find a pair of ladies underwear covered in…bodily fluids.
One of my coworkers put them in the trash can by the dressing room. A few minutes later, a different, older employee, not aware of the situation, saw the underwear sitting in the trash can and thought they must have been left there by mistake by a customer. She picked them up, brushed them off, and put them back on the shelf. We told her the story later and she realized, ‘OH, I TOOK THOSE OUT OF THE TRASH.’ Luckily we scrambled in time to find them and get them off the shelf, but still, disgusting to think about nonetheless. At least he didn’t steal them I guess.”
The Fearless Grape Bandit
“A grape. A guy opened up the bag, looked me dead in the eye, stuck one in his mouth, and walked away. Never broke eye contact as he left the store.
You’re not supposed to eat produce so it was stealing as grapes/apples and most other fruits are priced by weight, and not simply by the package.”
“I used to be a manager of a large retail store. Once we caught this guy who had hollowed out the inside of his jacket and filled it will so much stuff. We got him back to the security office and he started pulling out everything. Toys, DVD’s, Nintendo Wii remotes, clothing, and more. It was like watching a magic show because every time we thought everything was out of his coat more stuff came spilling out. Once we thought we had all of the merchandise, he sat down to wait for the police. While waiting he started tweaking out and decided to run for the door. My asset protection manager tried to grab him but he got away. I grabbed him and fell on top of him and suddenly we were both soaking wet. My first instinct was thinking that he had just peed himself.
It turned out he had a gallon of chocolate milk still concealed in his ‘magic’ coat and when I fell on him, it popped like a balloon. We started calling him Mary Poppins because his coat was like her bottomless bag.”
A Fish Out Of Water
“Some kid thought it would be hilarious to steal a live goldfish. He took it out of the tank with his hands and put it in his underwear. I caught him as he was leaving the store. He said it was just a joke. It was ‘hilarious’ until the police arrived and arrested him for theft and animal cruelty. Dumb kid, the fish didn’t make it.”
The Logic Just Wasn’t There
“I worked at Arby’s. The particular one I work at is in a really run-down area, known for its motels full of streetwalkers and daily dope busts. That being said, there are, as you can imagine, lots of homeless people. Every day, I find shooters or cans in the bathrooms. Sometimes people snort blow in there, and we have to call the cops. It’s just not a good situation.
My first week working there, right after punching in, my boss told me to grab a mop. I asked why. She replied, ‘Someone tried to steal the urinal.’ Yep. The freaking urinal out of the men’s room. I’m not sure what his exit strategy was, but he ran for it once water started pouring from the pipes. His logic? Apparently, there’s copper that can be sold from it. So the homeless man failed at stealing the urinal.”
The Motherly Thief
“The things I have seen people try to steal still boggle my mind but one story set itself apart. I was working in a grocery store and there was this woman who came in with her stroller and as she walked past I could see in the reflection of the doorway that she had turned and was watching me intensely. I decided to use a little tactic I like in which I walk around the floor at precisely a certain time (10 am, 10:15 am) so I did that and then when I went to leave again, I viewed her heading straight for the doorway as I was standing just out of her view.
I stopped her and asked her to produce a receipt for her items in her stroller, she said she lost it and wanted to speak to the manager for harassment. He was at the customer service desk watching all this so he came over at my beckoning and I stated that I watched her place at least one item in there and attempt to leave without paying.
I couldn’t see in the stroller though because it was underneath her kid. That scumsucking loser used her child to conceal the item she wished to steal.
What was it? A package of turkey necks.
She also had in her cart a package of steaks, razors, some magazine, as well as a $15 toupie ham shoved…well…if you are old enough to understand, I don’t need to explain.”
From Funny, To Stupid, To Downright Deadly
“My uncle worked as store security for a department store back in the ’80s while he was still a cop.
Two guys tried to steal a canoe. Just carried it over their heads, and tried to walk out the front door.
Had to have a guy arrested after he got belligerent when they stopped him at the door. He came in wearing one over-sized coat, but tried to leave wearing 4 at the same time. Best part, he was putting on all the coats in plain sight, right on the sales floor.
A more serious situation, around Christmas time. They knew there was a couple stealing fur/leather coats from other stores in the area. Well, now the couple is in their store, and clearly shoving a bunch of jackets into garbage bags. They’re leaving the store, and my uncle and another security guard [both off duty cops, mind you] follow them out into the parking lot. They tell them to stop, but the guy pulls a weapon. My uncle draws his weapon as well. Now there’s a stand off, in the middle of a crowded parking lot, families and kids all around. My uncle lowers his weapon as the bad guy did the same. He had to let them go, or risk having somebody [mainly him] get killed. And so he was fired for refusing to kill, or be killed, over a few hundred dollars in fake leather coats.”
Realizing Their Mistake
“I’m a former cellular store manager. At least once every other month someone would try to steal one or more dummy phones from the displays. No, not the live demos; the dummy phones with stock photos for screen images – the ones out in the open for anyone to look at and inspect. A cursory glance would make it very obvious that they were fake and non-operational and only had the security tethers on them to save us the hassle (and the company’s $10) of having to replace them if someone took them. Maybe the weirdest thing was that it wasn’t even usually smartphone dummies they took – they really wanted the flip phones.
I always wished I could be there to witness the moment they realized their mistake.”
Right In Front Of The Manager
I work retail. My first year I greeted a bald dude who walked in with an empty cart and he avoided me. Thought it was strange but whatever. 15 minutes later he comes up with a cart full of cat food. I notice the cashier is looking at a receipt and is starting the return process. I’m like what is this.
There were like four managers on that day. I told the one that the guy didn’t walk in with any of that. Luckily one of the others was outside smoking when he came in and another was stocking the cat food aisle. The guy filled his cart with products to be returned in front of a manger.
The manager that was smoking was crazy. He walked right up to the guy and told him he couldn’t return the stuff and he had to leave. He yells ‘this is bull!’ and storms off. The cashier was halfway through the return and was sooo confused. Luckily we never saw him again.”
She Wasn’t Getting Out Of It That Easy
“Where I used to work, if a male Loss Prevention guy caught a female shoplifter, another female employee had to sit in with them. Which is exactly what happened in this case. This chick stole a purse, filled it with panties, rubbers, a banana, cucumber, strawberries, and some teenie-bopper magazine. She was at least 21 years old. However, she did bother to pay for the paint, paintbrushes, stockings, and a messed up hat at least.
Her excuse was she was going to hook up with her underage girlfriend at the time. I didn’t bother to ask why she told us that. I didn’t want to even know.
I thought the LP guy’s eyes were going to pop out of his head before he said, ‘If you think trying to act all cute is going to work on me, you can cut the crap right now.’ A female LP showed up shortly afterwards and I was free to get back to work. Never bothered to ask what became of her.”
And It Was All Caught On Camera
“My husband is a waiter, and he was was working a large group of 20 or more guys who not only took off without paying but on their way out, they took the cash another group had left to pay for their meal! Apparently they were hammered and didn’t like the meal.
Luckily it was a happy ending. While the staff was reviewing the video, one of the waiters identified one of the guys. He worked in a pub and the restaurant owner was friends with the pub owner. The jerk had to pay for the meal, return the money he had stolen and was fired.”
One Way To Get A New CD Collection
“I work at a Starbucks.
We once had a lady try and steal every copy of Paul McCartney’s ‘Memory Almost Full’ because: ‘I’m his wife and he said it’s okay.'”
Her Excuses Went Down The Drain
“I worked returns at Lowes for half a year or so several years ago. We never gave cash for items without receipts at my store, but I’ve seen more than a few people try to get store credit, which they would use to buy a grill or some-such.
During the time I worked there, someone returned a ‘garbage disposal’ that the cashier took, which turned out to be a bag of sand.
I also had the following fun exchange with a woman:
Woman: ‘I would like to return this faucet, there’s nothing wrong with it, we just decided it didn’t look the way we wanted.’
I opened the box to find a grody, old faucet.
Me: ‘Ma’am this appears to be your old faucet.’
Woman: ‘Oh, ah, well I let my son pack up the box. He’s, uh, he’s six.’
The 14-Year-Old Thief
“A girl no older than 14 took a pregnancy test out of the box and tried to go into the bathroom with it. She was sobbing hysterically. No one felt good that day. To my knowledge, Loss Prevention didn’t call the police, but they did call her parents. I didn’t witness that part, but word around the water cooler was they looked very angry.
If I could have bought it for her, I would have, a lot of people were saying they would have. But once Loss Prevention caught her we couldn’t.”
Gotta Have It All
“I used to work in Poundland (UK) – which for those who can’t guess, is a shop where every item is only £1, and we actually had several thieves take stuff from the store, even though there were lots of shops nearby who were relatively unguarded.
One instance sticks out in particular, where we caught a thief red-handed, because a customer had seen the gentleman ‘shiftily throwing items from the shelves into a large canvas bag.’
After confronting said gentleman, we saw about 50 or 60 items from the store in this guy’s bag, which weighed about 15kg by the time we caught him. The items were just random £1 junk, some toiletry products, some £1 DVDs, some packets of crisps, etc. It just made literally zero sense, a part of me wishes we would’ve let him go on longer to see how much he was actually willing to take. I bet he’d have reached the good ol’ 100.”
It Might Be Embarrassing To Buy, But It’s More Embarrassing To Get Caught Stealing
“I used to work at a Spencer Gifts store. Adult toys were stolen pretty regularly.
There was a fun time when I got a call from mall security telling me that they had recovered some stolen merchandise from my store. I went down to another store to get the loot back. I went into the stock room where there were a couple of mall security officers, a couple of employees from that store, and two crying girls. The shoplifters couldn’t have been much older than 14. I was handed a bottle of strawberry flavored lubricant and was asked if I wanted to say anything to the shoplifters. I was about to say something about being ashamed, but an older gentleman who looked mighty furious entered the stock room. I’m guessing he was a father of one of the upstanding ladies, so I just decided to head back to my store.”
“I worked in a candy store in the trendy part of town (think Portlandia) and the neighborhood has a lot of gutter punks which were basically homeless hipsters. The gutter punks are always super cool and respectful in the shops but one day one of these guys’ not homeless high school girlfriend’s decided she needed to steal everything in the store. My boss who was also a hipster walked outside with the footage of her stealing on his iPhone and confronted her. He gave her a lecture on local businesses and said if she needed to steal to steal from Walmart. In a super cool move he said he’s not going to call the cops. She in her teen angst replied, ‘Forget you old man I do whatever the eff I want.’ My boss still didn’t call the cops. He was a very wise guy. He had every business in the area put her picture on their chalk street sign and wrote, ‘Don’t give money to the street kids…they do what they want,’ therefore driving all the gutter punks out of their favorite area. A week later they came back, apologized and were girl-free ever since.
I think losing all your friends is a better punishment than calling the cops.”