Gibb and take - the true confessions of an aging shoplifter
I DIDN'T think I had much in common with Barry Gibb from the BeeGees except being on the wrong side of 40 and a taste for daggy music…until I read about his early life of crime.
The now grandfatherly looking Barry admitted during a visit to Redcliffe last week that when he was a boy he and his brothers had often nicked stuff from the Woolies supermarket before throwing most of it into the water off the jetty. He says that one day out there on the jetty they decided to quit the stealing and focus on their music.
Barry's words reminded me of a brief but shameful time in my life when I was just like him - a petty thief.
When I was nearly 13 I stole a tube of mascara (okay maybe it was two, possibly three) from the Coles supermarket in the country town where I grew up and where everyone not only knew my name but that of my mother, father and probably my dog as well.
I wish I could be like Barry and say I made the choice to stop, but sadly I have to admit that I was forced to give up my life of crime by a bratty little cousin. In a ridiculous attempt to be seen as "cool" by this younger cousin I shared my secret with her and dared her to do something similar.
But she wasn't playing by the same rule book. She threatened that if I did anything like that again she would tell my mum. Breaking out in a cold sweat I promised her I would never do it again. And I haven't.
Barry's confession and my faded old memories left me wondering if times have changed, so this week I confessed my sins to Miss 16 and then asked her if shoplifting was still common among teenagers.
Shocked at my confession, she declared she had never done anything like that but she did know a boy who came to school recently wearing a complete outfit of stolen clothes - everything he was wearing or using - shirt, shorts, socks, shoes, jocks, cap, watch, backpack, wallet and phone - had been stolen. Even the bike he rode to school was stolen.
Be honest: Did you ever steal anything in your early years?
This poll ended on 21 March 2013.
Yes ... sorry
No - and proud of it
Not saying I did, not saying I didn't
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.
"What did everyone think of that?" I asked. She said none of her friends were impressed but a few others thought he was pretty cool for getting away with it. I'm sure I would notice if my child was wearing or using things that I had not paid for so why hadn't his parents noticed what was going on?
But then again, I have not really worried about my teens stealing anything - maybe I've been naïve but I honestly thought a couple of early experiences had taught them a life-long lesson.
Miss 16 took a packet of chewing gum from the supermarket when she was eight despite being told she couldn't buy it. Her dad saw it in her hands later in the day and threw it in the bin.
My son was a similar age when he stole a packet of lollies from a shop owned by a family friend. He was made to write a letter of apology and repay the money out of his piggy bank.
Barry's confession of his boyhood crimes might amuse a few people and my kids might be shocked that I wasn't such a goody two shoes after all but this teenager's brazen approach to shoplifting and stealing shows that it shouldn't ever be laughed off or considered a silly teenage prank.
A quick Google search reveals that Queensland retailers are losing $1.5 billion a year according to the Australian Retailers Association. That's a shocking number by anyone's standards and something we all pay for as retailers try to recoup these losses by building it into their prices.
While Barry and I saw the error of our ways and grew up to be law abiding citizens it is clear that far too many people think that stealing is no big deal.
I can't change the way other people live their lives but I can right my own wrong so this week I'll be donating $20 to the charity tin at my closest Coles supermarket.
So come on, here's your chance to confess: Did you ever steal anything when you were a teenager?