As a kid in a shopping center, it was a Temptation to shoplift

I’m unsure of the statute of limitations on shoplifting, but here goes . . .

This was around 1970 or 1971, when I was barely a teen. It was probably on a dare, or perhaps in response to peer pressure.

Some of the ne’er-do-wells I hung around with had a habit of taking five-finger discounts, including a (Catholic school) classmate who occasionally stole Playboy from a neighborhood drugstore, sliding the magazine up the front of his jeans jacket.

For some reason, he was more popular than I was.

But back to my crime. I was scared to death of the whole caper and I honestly don’t think I ever shoplifted again.

I have to laugh at the visual now: a chubby, freckle-faced kid from a lily-white suburb lurks about the music section of a store in a “shopping center,” and (deftly?) pockets a 45 rpm record of … the Temptations’ “Ball of Confusion (That’s What the World is Today).”

I have no idea if I chose that piece of vinyl deliberately or at random. All I remember is trying not to panic, and hoping to God — another bad choice, given what I was doing — that I wouldn’t get caught.

I managed to get away with it, but there was always a twinge or two of guilt whenever I put that record on the turntable. Alas, a life of crime wasn’t in the cards, despite the many temptations out there.

(Readers, feel free to use the Comment section below to confess to, and reflect upon, any misdeeds from your wayward youth. Just make sure the statute of limitations has passed.)

For time-travel purposes, here’s a classic video of the Temps performing “Ball of Confusion.” It’s 2 minutes of great music, and I must say the wardrobes are outstanding (the shoes, especially). Listening to the song now, the line that resonates is, “Run, run, run … but you sure can’t hide.”

I’m hoping that if the link gets enough additional hits (it’s at almost 400,000 now), it boosts the royalties to the band’s descendants and makes up for whatever was lost due to my sticky fingers that day.


About Jim McKeever

Writer, father, runner, advocate based in Central New York.
This entry was posted in crime, Irish Investigations, music and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to As a kid in a shopping center, it was a Temptation to shoplift

  1. Jake Lashon says:

    Great read! When I was very young, I never had a serious thought to shoplift, but I know that I would have reacted exactly as you did! The line “Run, Run, Run…But you can never hide” is perfect for the situation, I chuckled.


  2. markbialczak says:

    ‘People movin’ out, people movin’ in. Why? Because of the color of their skin.’ Damn, the Temptations knew what they were talking about to take the temperature of America in our young teen years, Jim. Love that song, still. I’m glad you chose that 45 instead of the Rolling Stones’ ‘Sticky Fingers’ album or you may have been caught that day. Crimes of youth? I remember skipping out of school with my friends, teen years, oldest one of us could drive. We went to a nearby pizza place to grab some forbidden slices, and who walks in the front door but my mother. She did not make a scene but I died a thousand deaths in front of my friends.


  3. Chris Morgan says:

    I think it was freshman year in high school, my best friend wanted to go see The Sting, but my mom said no, because there was a little bit of partial nudity in it. So, I just went to my friend’s house, and later we went to see the movie anyway. Of course, we saw one of my dad’s friends while we were there, and word got back to Mom and Dad. The guy wasn’t snitching or anything, just mentioned he had seen me, but that was enough for them to figure it out. I don’t remember what my punishment was, so it must not have been too bad, but I still remember that awful feeling of getting caught, lol!


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