I accidentally shoplifted a tool last week.  It was unintentional, but the tool has already turned out to be quite useful.  Feelings of guilt have descended.

Ever get home from the grocery store and start putting groceries away only to discover that you somehow ended up with something you didn’t’ buy?  This usually happens when two checkout belts are side-by-side and you or the bagger accidently put something extra in your cart.

These are usually minor items and I typically don’t worry about it.  You could take it back to the store but if it’s food they can’t restock it.  The original purchaser has probably already gone back to the store to replace the item. Besides, I’ve had the reverse happen where I don’t make it home with something I got, so I just keep it and figure it all balances out.

But I was at one of the Big Box stores last week and when I got home I discovered a small bag along with the other that contained a single item: a short 7/16″ wrench.  This was a regular wrench, but shorter than standard size for reaching into tight spots.  Like clamps, you just can’t have enough 7/16″ wrenches, and although I wasn’t aware these short ones existed I’ve already used it a couple of times and am thrilled with it.

But, oh, do I feel guilty.  Unclean.  Illicit.  I feel like a criminal.  This isn’t a 59-cent bunch of bananas, this is a $10 tool.  And a darned useful one at that.  In spite of my lack of intent, this is something I’ll have to make right.

I’ve saved the hanging-tag thing that was on the end of the wrench, and the next time I go to the Big Box store I’ll take it along, have them scan it, and pay for it like the upstanding citizen I used to be before embarking on my life of crime.




  • Howard Van Valzah says:

    This happened to me once but a bit differently. The product I wanted to buy normally sold for about $70, but on the day I chose to buy it, it was marked $20. I couldn’t believe it but it went past the cashier at that price. Since I was once cheated by this store I did not call it to their attention. Instead I went back and bought another one. In Monopoly they call it “Bank error in you favor”.

  • jerry moors says:

    I don’t believe you “borrowed” that tool from the Big Bopx store. I believe it belonged to one of the customers who preceded you in line. The Big Box stores don’t put anything in a bag until it’s been rung up. Thus, the clerk or preceding customer failed to ensure that it went to the right person.
    Don’t reward the Big Box store by paying for the same tool twice. If you feel guilty about it, make a donation to a local charity. This will assuage your guilt, and help someone in the community.
    Happy woodworking.

  • Stuart Simmons says:

    This has happened to me a couple of times with cat litter in the bottom of the shopping cart. First time I paid for it on my next trip to the store. Later I found out that one of the assistant managers would not only fire the cashier but would press shop lifting charges.

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