Confessions of a Shoplifter


Clay Campbell

Cole Campbell, Staff Writer

Jane Smith looked at old family photos and told her mother “that’s one of the dresses I stole.” Choosing to remain anonymous, this teacher began shoplifting from Dillard’s during her junior year of high school, when she was just 17.

“When I stopped during my senior year, I had stolen about $7,000 worth of clothes,” Smith said.

After catching some of her sisters shoplifting, Smith decided to try it for herself.

“I come from a very large family,” Smith said. “[I have] eight sisters and one brother, so our clothing budget was very slim. I just wanted new, name brand clothes.”

During her senior year of high school, Smith’s sisters were caught shoplifting.

“They had to go see a judge, and he ordered them to do community service,” Smith said. “They also had to stand outside of the store they got caught in with signs that read ‘Remember me, I stole from this store and I could steal from you too.’”

After her sisters were caught, Smith “quit cold turkey” and never stole again. A couple of years later, when she was 20, her conscience got the best of her.

“I went back to Dillard’s and told them that I wanted to set things straight,” Smith said.

The employees at Dillard’s told Smith that there was no way they could press charges since they did not have access to the security tapes from that far back, but she had another idea.

“I spent my whole summer doing community service with the Little Rock Police Department on a volunteer option,” Smith said. “At the end of the summer, I had about 300 hours of community service. It was kind of my way to repay the debt because I didn’t have the clothes anymore.”

According to the National Association for Preventing Shoplifting, only one in 48 shoplifters is caught, and about half of the ones caught are prosecuted.

“I’m just grateful that I wasn’t caught,” Smith said. “And I just want kids to know that [shoplifting] is not okay.”