Criminal Hotpants

Criminal Hotpants

As I struggled to find consciousness this morning, grappling with muesli, green tea and the Today programme, it was announced that the UK claims the highest shoplifting bill in Europe. For some reason, this put a spring in my zombie-step. Perhaps ‘cause it shows that as a nation we have our own solutions to the credit crunch…and it doesn’t involve eating turnips or knitting winter clothes from potato peel and shredded copies of Heat.

According to Checkpoint Systems’ Global Retail Theft Barometer (I know, who knew?) goods worth more than £4.1billion have been stolen from shops in the past 12 months. Unsurprisingly, the most frequently pinched goods were alcohol, cosmetics, women’s clothing, perfume, DVDs and computer games. Funny, isn’t it? As the government feebly attempts to rein in the supermarkets for practically giving away booze, it seems we’ll rob the lovely liquor, even if you can get a jumbo crate of Stella for less than the cost of a One Day Travelcard. Cheers.

According to the Financial Times, leg of lamb is the number one item stolen from the frozen food emporium, closely followed by cheese, bacon and coffee. Duncan Miles, its group head of security, said: “Leg of lamb gets stolen the most because it’s an easy commodity to sell in pubs and people are always on the lookout for meat.”

Easy to sell in pubs? I would have thought a slowly thawing, blood-dripping chunk of sheep might be a bit unwieldy, but perhaps I’m drinking in the wrong bars and need to hone my criminal skills. I mean, it’s not like a neat, wrap of smack that you can hide in your panties, is it?

As a shoplifter, my career was quite short. It was brought to a swift end when yours truly was caught by store detectives on a blisteringly hot day, in Kwik-Save, Liverpool. Wearing a Walkman, listening to rave and wearing nothing but denim hot pants, I found myself dragged into the supermarket’s surprisingly high-tech office.

“Is this you?” asked the burly, uniformed lesbian, pointing at a bank of CCTV monitors. There, in grainy black and white was an undeniable, moving manifestation of myself. A dancing, mincing, thieving thing. Lost in the sounds of Sasha and Digweed, looking like a cross between Mariah Carey and a Chippendale, there was no room for denying my identity. I tried to argue that as a student, abject poverty had worn me down and inspired the crime. Unfortunately, I’d stolen smoked salmon, Panadol, champagne and razor blades. At best, the items looked aspirational, but didn’t indicate starvation.

Weeping and increasingly hysterical, I was handcuffed and taken to Toxteth police station. Being booked at the same time was a gobby mixed-race prostitute. She was astounded that somebody was wearing less clothes than herself. At least her boob tube covered her nipples. My thieving nips were on show for everybody. ‘Mandy’ was intrigued to learn what I’d been arrested for. Quite rightly, she pointed out that the hot pants were a crime in their own right. We bonded instantly, both of us flirting with the policemen as they took our fingerprints. It was an utter riot. We both got off with cautions, and the pair of us took off down the pub afterwards.

I learned my lesson the hard way and have never worn denim hot pants or set foot in a Kwik-Save ever again.

First Published November 08/ 


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