Adding Salt to the Injury: What makes a thief?

I had the stupidest thing happen to me last Monday at my shop; in my 20 years of experience I have never seen anything like it. This kid came in, plugged in a guitar and started to play, he played some odds and ends for maybe 3 minutes and then suddenly without warning, pulled the plug out and bolted for the door guitar in hand. I was momentarily stunned and reacted in slow motion. I just couldn’t process what I was seeing. I finally snapped out my momentary stupor though and followed him outside, but he was already long gone bolting down the alley.


He made off with one of our most expensive guitars in the shop it was an Epiphone Hollow Body guitar. Those are rare models that have that extra resonance like an acoustic but through an electric. I was so shocked someone would be that brazen or that desperate to make way with an item like that. The kid had no hesitation he just bolted with it like my store was his own personal grab bag.

Well anyway here is a quick update on the story. Got a call from the police station today and they told me to come on in to talk about it. Then I was surprised to hear that they believed that they had the guy. I was pretty excited at first that justice might be done. But when I saw this kid that did it, I honestly felt sorry for him. He was maybe 16 years old sitting in a jail cell with adults and he seemed scared.

I asked the officers if I could speak to him directly. They mumbled and grumbled amongst themselves for a bit but then after a few minutes they came back to me and told me it would be ok to talk to him but I would have to make it brief of an a exchange because they were on a tight schedule.

So I went up to this troubled kid, he was sitting in the corner all by himself and looking at the ground, I said hi to him but he did not respond. Then I asked him, “You know who I am don’t you?” To which he replied, “Should I” With his smart response I started to feel a little less sorry for him and remembered his stealing was the reason that I was there to see him.

His response was a bit enigmatic. Should he feel sorry for me or should he feel sorry for himself and the predicament that he was in. So I put the challenge forth to him, leaned over with as serious a look as I could ever muster and said, “Yes you should, I know you remember me, I’m the dopey guitar store owner you tried to swindle out of a 9000 dollar guitar.” To this he interjected, “That wasn’t worth no 9000 dollars man! What are you smoking!” “The pawn shop would only give me 4000 for that piece of junk!”

What an unrepentant little punk I thought. He didn’t feel bad in the least bit for what he did to me and my store. At that point I did not feel sorry for him in the slightest. Before I went in there I thought that maybe he was from a broken family and didn’t have any money and was just too tempted that day to make a quick buck.

The thing is, I found out later in the day from the Police Detective who was working on the case, that this kid was not from a broke down family by any means. Of all things his father was a prominent attorney in the twin cities area. His mother and father were happily married with a lot of money, so it was not like he was latchkey kid with just a single mom working a 9 to 5.

The other funny thing was that his dad was a very successful criminal defense attorney, maybe this had worked up some kind of invulnerability complex in the kid. Perhaps he thought he could do just about anything and his attorney father would come to his defense and bail him out just like he did for his clients.
I didn’t even want to know anymore at that point, when I got my $9000 telecaster back it had some nicks and scratches, someone had to make some atonement for that somewhere.