Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

Sign up for our twice-weekly newsletter!

Officials to clear homeless encampment near campus in May
By Max Porter, Contributing News Editor • March 4, 2024

Ask Annie: How can I break out of my stealing addiction?

Facing a problem yourself? Annie has answers. Ask away!

Nicholas Anastacio | Graphics Editor

Dear Annie,

Ever since coming to college, I’ve developed a bad habit of borrowing things…forever…from stores. I guess you call that stealing? I feel that stores like [redacted] don’t need my money or won’t miss [redacted]. But lately I’ve felt this may be a problem. What should I do?

Winona Ryder

Editor’s Note: We can neither confirm nor deny that this is the famous actor Winona Ryder.

Dear Winona Ryder,

While I don’t condone shoplifting, I hope you are only stealing items that will help you look good in your mugshot for when you inevitably get caught – perhaps some skincare from [redacted], chapstick from [redacted] and maybe some wine from [redacted] to help you pose with confidence.

Jenna Baer | Staff Cartoonist

Miss Ryder, shoplifting is a problem. Stealing squash from a bald man’s corporation probably won’t land you in the slammer with mugshot clout, but you’ll likely get banned from the store or slapped with a fine far more than the price of the stolen item. The consequences of being caught are not worth the risk.

It’s easier to pay for the item at the cash register than sneak it away with possible punishments looming…so why do you, tons of other people and (once) admittedly myself shoplift? You need to ask yourself that question. Does it make you feel more in control? Does it allow you to avoid awkward conversations about your spending habits with your parents? Whatever your reason for stealing, there are other solutions.

If you steal to grant yourself the illusion of control over your life, focus on other, less illegal ways you can do so. You can control whether you avoid the political fever coursing through GW’s campus. The consequences are much lighter than an arrest. Refusal to vote in SA elections may end with a candidate’s deflated ego rather than handcuffs.

If you want to buy something without someone finding out, just ask a friend to buy it for you and pay them back. If your parents ask why you Venmoed Veronica $11, say she bought you a coffee rather than a mango-flavored vape at McReynolds.

You need to develop some lost willpower to stop stealing. There was a time when shoplifting wasn’t your thing – you can get back to those days before becoming a kleptomaniac. Reward yourself each time you go to the store and pay for all of your items. Perhaps watch an episode of your favorite trashy reality TV show like the new season of “Love Is Blind” or go to bed early to get your beauty sleep.

Ask your friends to accompany you while shopping to hold you accountable. With your permission, they could check for items you may have hidden in your pockets or backpacks to make sure you scan each barcode. Who doesn’t love shopping with their friends – even if they are there to hold you within the law? To make the shopping excursion fun, you could even coordinate outfits as Blair and Serena from Gossip Girl do for their outings.

You could replace shoplifting as a bad habit with a not-so-illegal habit. If you feel the need to behave inappropriately at the store, start crop-dusting on people – annoying and childish, but not illegal. If the illegality of shoplifting brings you joy, do something less legally severe, like send a tweet giving a false weather report. The U.S. government outlaws this silly prank. Imagine the rush of telling your followers they need a sweatshirt when it’s sweltering outside – the perfect revenge for unwashed dishes!

Though shoplifting may start for quick, adolescent pleasure, it may spiral into an addiction that causes more shame than satisfaction. Even if you’re not an Elliott kid chasing a security clearance, you should aim to nip the habit in the bud before you face outsized consequences.

Stay outta prison,

More to Discover
Donate to The GW Hatchet