The Police were called, now this was the first time that I really thought I was in trouble, serious trouble….. I cried like a baby when the Police took me off to the station for questioning, all I could think of was, I’m definitely going to jail this time. I’m 16 years young with thoughts of what prison is going to be like, I’ll admit, I was terrified.
Once we arrived at the nick in Brighton, my parents were contacted and told what had happened. The Police questioned me, I had a duty solicitor made available for me who advised me not to say anything. Now, although I was a bad kid, I do know the difference between right and wrong and I’d been caught red handed, so I decided to tell the Cops everything.
I explained that I was being blackmailed by a man who’d once come into the shop and now would wait for me outside after work, an that I had to take clothes for him, or else!!! They asked me about this man and I gave them as good a description as I could. I was young and terrified, the Police could see this and I think they felt for me. Remember, I had bought and paid for a pair of shoes from Next and hidden a shirt inside the box, so I wasn’t all bad in their eyes. They gave me a warning and told me that this would be put down on record and if I got into trouble again, I’d be getting a Criminal Record……I said earlier on I was scared……..but was I really that scared…
You’d have thought from this that, that would have been the end of it, I’d pull my socks up and start living an honest, clean and decent life, just like my parents had taught me. My Mum and Dad are the most honest people you could ever meet, Mum once found £100 in the street and handed it in, law abiding and decent people, so I could never (and still don’t) understand why I wasn’t.
Looking back at it, I think if the Police had come down hard on me at that young age, I probably wouldn’t have gone on to do a lot of the things that I have, but they didn’t……..my Dad always told me that ‘one day you’ll end up in jail’ – You didn’t need to be a rocket scientist to see this – but WHY was I the only one who couldn’t?
I’ve got my theories as to why I couldn’t see that but for now, all I want to do is paint a picture of what I was like, the understanding of it will all come later on.
This was how cocky I was, I got a job in another clothes shop called Sabre (not sure if that’s the correct spelling), which was a little bit more upmarket than Next and funnily enough, was a few hundred yards away from it in East Street. I carried on doing exactly the same thing in Sabre until the Manager of Next saw I was working there and told my manager that over £7000 worth of stock (not all me for the record) had gone missing in the time I’d been working for them……I was called into the office and asked to leave immediately.
It seemed like I was always looking for the next hit, I needed excitement to fill my life, I couldn’t just be happy with what I had, I always wanted more……as a kid at 13 (only a few years ago) I was happy making Airfix models, playing with my corgi cars, I didn’t need anything else I was happy, so why was I spiraling so much out of control??? (I could answer all of this now and give my reasons but I won’t, if you want to find out you’ll have to keep reading to the end – only 28 years to go – or if you know someone like me, LIVE CHAT is available for them to get friendly, impartial advice)
Now I just moved onto shoplifting, I’d take WHSmiths carrier bags into WHSmiths, fill them up with stuff that I didn’t need and just walk out, it was that easy. I had money to pay for these items but as I said, I can only liken it to be a drug addict, always looking for their next fix (no idea about drugs at this age, didn’t even drink). For months I’d go to Brighton, fill my bags up with stationary, posters, CD’s, whatever I could fit into a bag and then ride my stolen motorbike back to my parents. I worked a shoplifting system out in Boots, on the ground floor was the chemist, on the first floor they sold cameras, CD’s and other electrical items. You could either take the escalator to the first floor or you could take the lift. So I’d take a Boots carrier bag in, pick up a shopping basket and go to the first floor. Once I was there I’d pick up all sorts of crap that I didn’t want or need and then head back to the lift. Once inside the lift I had 30 seconds to load whatever I had in the basket into the carrier bag……I repeated this, oh I can’t remember how many times but it was a lot.
The most memorable time that I did this was on a busy Saturday afternoon, sun was shining, perfect for day stealing. I went through the motions as I had done many times before, walked out of the shop and headed down North Street. I went to a phone box, where I’d open the bags up to have a look and see what bounty I’d got………as I turned round and opened the door there were 2 Police cars and a load of Police officers standing outside……..I have to admit, I pissed my pants, I was REALLY petrified this time. Caught twice in the same area within the year…..oooppppssss!
As I stepped out they grabbed hold of me, one cop firmly taking hold of my wrist with his hand while the others took bags of stolen items. Walking to the Police car I felt the grip of the officer relax a little and that was it, I was off, sprinting down North Street like a grayhound, Cops chasing after me shouting to people ‘STOP HIM!’ As I pasted one man he stuck his leg out to try and trip me up, hurdling it, I turned into this short cut that headed towards Brighton Pavilion. All I could hear were sirens and lots of shouting as I ran for what seemed like my life, I could now see out of the corner of my eye the Police cars that were pursuing me. I was a fast sprinter but not a long distance runner, so the cops chasing me on foot were now a long way behind.
As I entered Church Street the Old Bill were now pulling up alongside me, car door open and ready to jump out, so I darted into this door way. I was pushing people out the way, ran up some stairs to the very top of this building, climbed on top of shelves and onto the rafters, puffing and panting and sweating like a dog but trying to control my breathing so as not to give my position away.
I could hear all this commotion even though I was gasping for air, I think at times like these your senses are heightened ten fold! Trying so hard to control the noises coming out of my mouth, I was standing on top of a wooden beam, trying to conceal myself from view. The shelves that I’d climbed on top of were full of what appeared to be books, rows of shelves containing thousands of books, but I wasn’t wondering at this point where I was, staying undetected was my priority.
Suddenly, two coppers entered the room where I was, I held my breath as they came walking underneath where I was standing, my heart pounding like a fat clock, to me this was a life or death situation. To my relief, these cops turned around and walked out…..oh my goodness, they haven’t seen me, as I breathed out and took a massive breath back into my rather deprived lungs. For a moment I thought that I might just get away with this.
I was prepared to stay in this building all night if I had to, all different thoughts were going through my head, the rush of adrenaline was incredible until I saw this one lone copper come back into the room. Again I held my breath and stood as silently as I could, trying to imagine what it must have been like to be a downed pilot in Vietnam, hiding in a tree with the Vietcong searching for you below (I’ve always been fascinated by war). This Policeman took a few steps forward and then all of a sudden he stopped, stood still, looked left and right and then tilted his head upwards towards me. ‘You’d better get down NOW’ he screamed at me.
As I was led out of, what I now know was the Library, there was a huge crowd of people gathered to see what the commotion was, I felt ashamed, first time I’d ever been handcuffed and rightly so. I was taken back to Bright Police station for the second time that year.
I wrote a letter to Boots apologising for my actions and I couldn’t believe the reply that I got……..