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Web Bonus


Caught!




by Allie Poblete

Against my better judgement, I went with my friends Bryan and Amanda and “picked up” a few items at the mall.

 This week’s Web bonus story started in Insight magazine. Here’s a quick summary of the story so far: Allie, Amanda, and Bryan got out of school early one day during senior week. Amanda talked Allie into going to Ontario Mills outlet mall with her and Bryan to pick up some items—to shoplift them.

Bryan and Amanda coached Allie as she successfully picked up for herself a pair of Vans, then two bathing suits, two pairs of socks, and a T-shirt at Old Navy. Just as Allie was leaving Old Navy, an alarm went off. She describes what happened next.
 
My heart stopped. I kept walking, trying to act as if it wasn’t me who set off Old Navy’s alarm. I didn’t look back until we were out of sight.
“I’m so scared, you guys! I took off every sensor and tag! Is someone gonna come after me? Did they see what I look like?” My mind conjured up the worst possibilities.
“You’re fine. No one’s coming. It probably happens all the time,” Amanda said, but the tone of her voice sounded a lot less reassuring than it had before.
“I don’t care; I’m done! I want to get out of here! Can we please just leave now?” I pleaded.
“You’re fine—just relax. Let’s just go in this one last store.” Bryan pointed at Steve and Barry’s, a store that carries college T-shirts and stuff I’d never buy.
I looked at Bryan like he was crazy. “I’ll just wait outside for you guys. Really, I’m done. I’m freaking out!”
“Seriously, this is the last store, and then we’ll go. Come on!” Amanda pulled my arm and dragged me toward Steve and Barry’s.
We walked in. Paranoid, I looked around.
“No flies. Only two workers,” Bryan whispered to us.
I walked around the store and looked around, but nothing interested me. What is taking them so long? I just want to leave! I kept thinking.
I found Amanda looking at a University of California Davis T-shirt. “Are you almost done? I don’t even want any of this stuff.”
“Yeah, hold on. I don’t know what size I should get my sister,” Amanda replied.
I sighed. “OK, hurry!” I told her as I walked away.
A couple minutes passed and Amanda and Bryan still weren’t finished shopping—I mean shoplifting. Standing across from a faded, orange Texas Longhorn shirt, I thought, Why not? Louis likes their team. Louis, my boyfriend at the time, was a fan of the Texas Longhorns. So I grabbed the $8 shirt and secretly dropped it in my not-so-empty bag.
Bryan and Amanda appeared behind me. “OK, we can go now. Let’s just use this side door, so we don’t have to walk through the mall,” Bryan suggested, leading the way. It was a side door all right, but it didn’t look like customers were supposed to use it.
Again my heart was beating way too fast for my own good. I looked up at the sky and announced to Bryan and Amanda, “We made it!”
“Stop right there! Turn around! Give me your bags right now!” a deep, mean voice yelled behind us.
I quickly turned to Amanda who was walking beside me. We looked at each other as we both wondered, Should we run? Her car was parked on the other side of the mall, so we just kept walking.
“Do you want to be charged with resisting arrest? Come back here right now!” the voice yelled again.
I stopped and turned around and my eyes fell on a huge guy who looked like a bodybuilder. He was wearing a tight shirt that showed off his muscles, and, of course, it said “Security.” He already had Bryan.
“Here . . . uh . . . you can have this . . . sh-shirt back. I’m s-sorry,” I stammered, feeling more nervous and scared than I ever had in my life.
“Nope. You’re coming with me. Let’s go!” the huge man demanded.
We followed him to the back of Steve and Barry’s where we were questioned. The cops  discovered everything in our bags and notified the other stores. Their workers came and picked up the items we’d taken. I felt horrible, ashamed, and scared. The police came, took pictures for their database, and made us sign papers. Then they handcuffed us and walked us through the mall, escorting us to their cop cars.
The cops put Bryan in the first car ahead of us, and they put Amanda and me in the other car. We rode to the mall’s police holding station, where we were fingerprinted, photographed, and questioned some more.
Since I was 18, Amanda was 17, and Bryan was 16, I not only had to leave the mall, I was banned from it and given a court date. Bryan and Amanda had to wait for their parents to pick them up. As I walked away, crying, I called Louis for a ride.
Not worth it
In court I was charged only for the $8 shirt that I stole, not any of the other items. I had to pay the store a $500 fine and pay the court $300. After my court hearing, I pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor, which later got dropped to an infraction.
My parents lost all trust in me. My record made it harder to find a job. And, it tore me up that I’d falied to be a good role model to my younger sister who had looked up to me.
Going on a shoplifting spree with Bryan and Amanda went against my morals and what I know is right. The Bible is clear about stealing. The Ten Commandments say, “You shall not steal” (Exodus 20:15). Why did I go along with them and do something I knew I shouldn’t do? All I can say is, I learned a great deal from my shoplifting experience. Now, whenever someone is pressuring me to do things that I know are wrong, I stand up for myself and don’t go along with them.
I believe God allowed us to get caught at Ontario Mills that day. If He hadn’t, my shoplifting may have escalated, or I might have even gotten myself entangled in more consequential misdemeanors.
Here’s what I hope you learn from my mistake: the next time you think about doing something you know is wrong, stand up for youself and make a wise decision. You’ll be glad you did.
Allie Poblete, a university student majoring in communications, public relations, and advertising, writes from California.




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