(Written in April 2019)

March 30, 2011. My first big item, a Nintendo 3DS. At this point, I’d been stealing on a near-daily basis. It started with that bag of chips in the school cafeteria but it quickly progressed to retail. At first I’d justify it to myself as stealing things that I wanted so I didn’t have to pay for them, but I knew that I was really doing it for the rush. The rush you get from the weight of your full pockets, and that rush you get when the automatic door opens and your thieving ass is safe.

I got Trey roped into this early on, and I’ve not since experienced a bond at all similar to the kind that I formed with this partner in crime. Video games were our treasure of choice since we didn’t need to sell games to get value out of them. You just had to locate the security camera, get your buddy to cover you, and slip that game in your pocket. Then you had the choice of walking out nonchalantly or buying some cheap item as a decoy if anyone gave you a funny look. Of course, we would steal anything if we felt like it; even something as monotonous as a pack of batteries. Trey and I thought of ourselves as redistributors of wealth, not villains.

“Alright, so what’s the game plan?”

“Well, the 3DS box is hot merchandise so it’s obviously gonna have spider wrap,” I say as we sit in my Honda Civic shitbox. My gaze fixates on a cigarette burn on the curved dashboard. It’s 8PM. Best Buy looms over the parking lot but I dare not glance at it until we’re ready.

“You know, that little black sensor around the package. We can’t cut it off or it’ll trigger an alarm. Bypassing the towers at the front door might work but if it’s a 3-alarm system, the spider will go off as soon as we leave the store.”

“So we have to stop the spider from communicating with the security system somehow,” Trey says.

“Exactly, which is where this comes into play.”

I pull a gym bag from the backseat and open it to reveal that its interior is lined with several layers of aluminum foil.

“They call it a ‘booster bag’, but it’s really just a Faraday cage. It shields the spider from electromagnetic waves.”

“Nice!” Trey replies with a grin. “Now it’s just a routine job.”

We begin the usual routine once we enter the store. You just have to blend in: look like everyone else, walk without much purpose but in the general direction of the score. The subtle dance of the duo shoplift begins once we reach the video game section. Two little boys are taking turns playing Super Monkey Ball on the demo 3DS, screeching in gleeful child-speak whenever one of them fall off a platform. A perfect distraction.

I examine the 3DS box that I’ve just picked up, as if mulling over whether or not I should purchase it. Now, Trey is great with cameras. He works in retail and is able to identify all of the cameras in the area as well as the general range of vision of each. Since we’ve snatched a few games here before, we already figured out the exact location of the nearest blind spot. Two aisles down, by the DVDs. I try to stay casual as we walk there but the metaphorical heat of the overhead fluorescent lights releases sweat from my pits. Blocked by both Trey and a 7 foot shelf, I uncinch the gym bag and stuff the 3DS in it before putting it back on my back. I also grab a copy of Waking Life from the shelf (great movie).

I can’t shake off a bad feeling while we head towards the register. Part of me wants to put back what we took and just get out of here. But that would be too easy. It’s possible that we made a mistake coming back here so soon after the last heist. Trey like a cool cucumber, no more out of place than those kids back there, and this calms me down.

I slap the DVD on the counter before I realize the person at the register is JD, this weirdo from a lower grade who always hangs around our lunch table. Who even knows what JD stands for?

“Heyyyyyyy, guys!”

“Hey, JD,” Trey replies.

“Whatcha got there—oo, I love this movie,” JD says in his nasally, puberty-ravaged voice.

“Yeah, it’s a good one,” I say, knowing that I’m never going to watch it since I don’t even have a DVD player.

We get through the rest of the transaction and walk to the exit. 8 steps out, I know that someone is coming for us. My shoulders tense up just as they’re met with a heavy hand.

“Do you mind opening your bag for me?” asks the burly man, hand unwavering.

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