How Shoplifting Made Me Rich: 3 Lessons You Can Legally Steal

Andrew Folts
8 min readAug 2, 2019

After spending my high school years swiping cheap tees and over-distressed jeans, I realized I was stealing more than just clothes. Here’s how I got rich.

I became a shoplifter by accident at the ripe old age of seven.

It was hardly an Ocean’s Eleven operation. While my mom was browsing for clothes, I wandered off and became fascinated with one of the clips from an empty clothes hanger. I pocketed the thing and forgot all about it until we got to the car: “Look at this cool clippy thing I found!”

Mom wasn’t impressed. She frog-marched me straight back into the store.

Had I been forced to hand it to a clerk, I think I would have died of embarrassment right on the spot (I was super-shy at the time)— but my howls of terror must have conveyed the proper amount of suffering, so my mom settled for watching me put the clip back where I found it.

In retrospect, I like to think the empty hanger was left by some former shoplifter, like a ghost that would haunt the next passerby. And although it would be more than ten years before I stole anything again, I couldn’t shake the feeling of that experience. I wanted more, and I was going to get it.

Elementary Conformity

After spending grades K through Four in a rural primary school where being middle class roughly translated to being the Genghis Khan of household income, I moved to a more wealthy suburb and quickly became a very small fish in a very large pond.

I was eating lunch on my first day of fifth grade when the kid across from me looked under the table and said, “Wait…are you wearing swimming trunks?”

“Yeah,” I replied. “I like ’em. So what?”

What followed was a rapid realigning of values inside my tiny eleven-year-old brain. Conformity: good. Quirkiness: bad. Got it.

Stealing High School Status

Like the ghost t-shirt, it took a while for this new philosophy to manifest itself.

After I landed my first job waiting tables at a high-end retirement home, I started making expeditions to the mall with friends to try and shift my fashion game into…

Andrew Folts

Author of 365 Comics. Writer, illustrator, and barefoot runner slinging minimalist hacks for creative rebels.