Tag Archives: theft

Hiding In Plain Sight

So, my seasonal job seems to have turned into a permanent position, which is fabulous. That was what I wanted to begin with. I figured that Christmas was a good time to get my foot in the door so to speak. Also, my kids have birthdays in the end of November and the beginning of December, so I figured that worst case scenario, I would make some extra loot during the holidays and have some experience in the field that I want to have an eventual career in.
Well, it is February now, and week 1 of the retail year, and I am still employed. I absolutely love it there. I have gotten quite a few positive guest feedbacks on our surveys that we invite all our patrons to take. I love the people that I work with as well (for the most part – of course there are a couple of people that I don’t get along with). It is all women save for one gay man, and they all are as obsessed with makeup as I am. It is fun to have a place where I can be around people who have the same passions as me, and I am privy to what new products are coming out as well.
The one single issue that I find that I have is the same one that I have had at every other job, hiding my history. For one, I feel that it would truly cost me my job. Not so much my past drug convictions or assualt arrest, but my numerous theft arrests and subsequent convictions. See, we have a problem with thefts at my store. Ironically we sell a good deal of what I used to boost, but thank God, I never stole or tried to steal anything from my store. There was a big crackdown a few years back on all of the pawn shops in Baltimore that took all of the stolen pharmaceuticals, so no one really has a place to sell that stuff any more.
No, no one is stealing razor blades or Olaay’s from my work. No, they go for fragrance. That and the Urban Decay “Naked” palettes.
Since I have been employed there, I have seen a fellow employee get fired for theft of some sort. I don’t thi that she was physically stealing so much as helping or enabling someone else to steal. Obviously I wou never do anything to jeopardize a job that I love in a field that I love, but would my manager see that? Or if she knew my record would suspicion always be cast my way when ever there is a theft during a shift of mine?
As for the new friends that I am making, would they still like me if they new that I am a recovering heroin addict? It is easy to say that if they would care then they are not people to be friends with anyway, but it is not that simple. I have a very hard time opening up to people and making friends. I don’t want to ruin any chance of making new friends by sabotaging my chance by revealing a past that they really have no business of knowing.
I do feel in a way that after all of the progress that I thought that I had made, maybe I haven’t made as much as I thought after all. Maybe I should be confident enough to say fuck them if they can’t handel my past. I feel like I have been able to own my addiction, but I guess that I am not as secure in myself as I thought. Or maybe, I am allowed to have some secrets. Maybe we all do. Maybe my past is none of their business as I honestly am an entirely different person than I was back then.

Boosted

Be weary of fast cash
Be weary of fast cash

My time as a thief or a booster, happened much like my drug addiction. Very slow, and then all of the sudden it was a daily event. I do not, under any circumstances, recommend that a person goes out and makes their money by boosting from stores. Yeah, I was making a thousand plus a day easy, but I also have five theft convictions and an attempted theft. To put that in perspective, I have only one CDS conviction and I got high for much, much longer than I boosted for. These of course, are just the convictions, not the arrests. It just isn’t worth it. Fast money can lead to fast jail time.
Anyway, one day my husband and I were at the Hilton pawn shop, Shine Corner, selling something which I can not recall at the moment. While we were there Aaron saw this guy that he was locked up with at the Howard County Detention Center. They traded numbers and off we went to cop. The next day or shortly after, the guy called us asking if we could take him to the store to boost. Of course, he would be paying us. We picked him up and took him to a grocery store where he proceeded to steal, I kid you not, Monostats. Yes, feminine itch cream. The Monostat 7 were worth $7 each and I think he got maybe 10 at one store and 15 at another.
We started to pick him up daily. Sometimes we would take him and a friend of his, and they would both pay us. We started to learn what items you could sell (pretty much any name brand pharmaceutical). Thing was, this dude took FOREVER in each store. I’m talking like 45 minutes to an hour each. It was such a pain in the ass.
One day he didn’t call. We waited for awhile, getting sicker by the minute, until we said, “Fuck it”. We left determined to figure something out. I told my husband that I would take the shit my damn self. We pulled up to a store and I told him to park on the curb. I went in and grabbed a cart. I filled the cart up with clothes and other big things. I went into the pharmacy and found the Prilosecs. I didn’t have my “boosting bag” with me, as this was the first time I was doing this, so I grabbed four 42 counts shoved them under the clothes and went to the dog food isle. I looked around, put them in my bag, and got the fuck out of there.
When I got into the car and we pulled off onto the highway without a hitch, I was shocked at how simple and easy it was. I also had a huge adrenaline rush. We went to the pawn shop and sold the prilos for $11 each. We had enough for two pills each and four to go with the three we had for gas. (Remember, gas was only $2 a gallon in 2004, so you could put $7 in gas.)
That was all she wrote. I loved it. I loved the thrill of getting away with it, but most of all, I loved that I could get money easily whenever I wanted. I had the car, so I didn’t need a ride, and I could get my own money, thank you very much.
After that day, my husband and I would go out like three times a day making a few hundred each time. It was much easier than baby formula. Especially since I had two theft arrests for stealing baby formula. I was awaiting the court dates for these, so they had not yet become convictions.
Theft, like anything else, lost it’s thrill, it’s sense of fun. There were undercover security guards all over the place that knew who I was and were trying to catch me. It was a constant cat and mouse game. Certain stores would call security as soon as I stepped in the door. Sometimes, the police would call me over shit that I didn’t even do, trying to hem me up.
It started to be so hot at so many stores near by that we would have to drive far as shit to find stores where they didn’t know us. When I went to jail at the end of 2006 and got clean for a few years, I was too hot. I racked up all those convictions that I previously mentioned between 2004 and 2006. I also violated probation like three or four times.
I would most certainly NOT glamorize stealing or recommend that anyone go out and choose to make their money this way. I mean, it is better than robbing banks or robbing someone at gun point. In Maryland under $1,000 is a misdemeanor, where as anything involving a firearm is obviously a felony. Yeah, you may make $300 in ten minutes, but after a couple of slaps on the wrist, you are down for the count for six to eighteen months. You aren’t making shit in jail. Trust me, when I came home from jail, I was happy to wait tables for tips.

Stewie

Stewie

It was a bitter cold January morning in Sandtown that day. Aaron and I were crouched down in my Chevy Cavalier, with the engine off so that the car would not emit smoke out of the muffler. We were just two of the hundred or so waiting for Flatline to start hitting.
Flatline was a white fentanyl-based dope. It was good, really, really good. It was great because it took Aaron and mine’s thousand dollar a day habit and cut in a third. The problem was that no other dope got you high. If Flatline was on hold to long, or if the police came and locked up everyone on the block for the day, twice as much of another dope would just barely get you well.
Most people waiting for them to yell, “Flatline in the hole”, would hang out in the little corner stores or liquor stores, or abandoned row houses. Being as though we were lacking in skin pigmentation we waited in the car. You had to be fast when they started hitting, as they would sell out in like five to ten minutes flat, never hitting more than half of the line. Then they went on hold for another hour or two.
Being white added additional risks. Anyone who gets caught walking out of a hole (or an abandoned alley) is fucked. If you are black though, once you get out of the alley on to the street, you are basically fine. Those of us that are fairer, are a walking target all the way to the car. Even then,you are not really safe. If a cop sees you white ass driving around in Sandtown, you are getting pulled. They will figure out a reason for why they pulled you over later. Total racial profiling. Maybe this is why I am so sensitive and disgusted by racial profiling, I have had it happen to me. At least though I am the race that is the majority in most parts of this country and only would face it in Baltimore. I don’t face it every time I go to the airport or am in an upper or middle class neighborhood.
Aaron and I had our little routine. Flatline was the only dope that we could not only get well, but get HIGH off of just one pill. Every morning we would ball in town, cop two, get well and then go out boosting to get money for drugs for the rest of the day.
After we would cop everyday, we would go to the same BP and pull up to the same pump, pump one. Aaron would start cooking up the dope while I went to pay for gas. It was always the same dude working. He would always have my Tropicana peach papaya juice ready for me, and new what pump we were using. I would start to pump the gas, and leave the pump in the car as we got on.
It worked, but we had no tint, and sometimes it would take us an awfully long time to find a vein. One time we had a really close call. Since we didn’t want to sit at the pump any longer than we had to, Aaron would pull off as soon as we were done and I would clean the tools (needles) as we were driving. One day after we got on, we were waiting to turn on to Franklin Road, when a cop car drove by. It had a white female and a black male, and they practically broke their necks looking at us as they drove by. Sure enough they got right behind us. I had no time to put the tools or cooker away, and I couldn’t throw them out the window, so I dropped them under the seat. Within 15 seconds, the lights and sirens went on. They said that they pulled us over because Aaron didn’t have his seat belt on the entire time, but that was bullshit. Aaron was buckling it while we were still at the gas station, as they drove by. They pulled us because we were white. After she looked at our IDs, which stated that we were from Howard County all of 20 minutes away, the first thing the lady asked us was, “What are you doing here?” I thought this was America not Iraq, but we were white in an area that wasn’t. “We were just getting gas and going back home”, we told her. She instantly pulled us out of the car. “Are their any drugs in the car? Is there anything that can cut me, poke me, scratch me?”, she asked. “No drugs,” I responded, “but there are two needles under the passengers seat with no caps on them, so be careful.” By now the backup arrived. “Be careful!” She exclaimed to the other officers, “There’s needles everywhere and none of them have caps on!” This was of course a gross exaggeration. There was not needles everywhere without caps. There were two needles without caps, the others had caps on and were inside of the pink sarin Chanel bag that I kept the cooker, needles, ties, alcohol wipes, water, etc. in. Most people are probably wondering why I so easily told the officer that there was needles in the car, and where they were. The answer is that in Baltimore the don’t lock people up for needles (crack pipes are a different story). The jails are far too overcrowded as it is to lock up people for a crime that only carriers at the max a $500 fine. Now, if the cop had pricked herself with one of those needles, we would have been arrested for sure. We would have been charged with assault on an officer at the minimum, and I have known people who have been charged with attempted murder for similar situations. The AIDS rate in Baltimore is so high, that they fear being poked with a dirty needle more than most things. After we were both thoroughly searched, we sat on the curb and watched the three of them tear my car apart, getting angrier by the second that they could not find any drugs. “There has to be drugs in here. They have the cooker, the tools out,” she said. “Unless they just did them,” the black officer told her. “Just tell us where they are,” she pleaded with me. “I told you, there are no drugs. We just shoot up at the gas station.” Finally after about 45 minutes, she have up. “Get the fuck out of here. If I catch you all around here again, I’ll lock you up on some petty ass paraphernalia bullshit.”
The point of this anecdote is to illustrate that it was always a little risky getting high at the gas station. We faced the car away from the road, but still, had those cops drove by three minutes earlier, we may have been fucked.
So on that particular January day, Aaron came back to the car with this short, balding white dude in his mid-forties. “This is Stewie. He says he’s got a place on Fulton. If we give him a ride home, we can get on at his place.” “Get in,” I say.
We arrive at his house, a blue four level, beat up row house. “I’m in the basement,” he told us as we went inside. We followed him into the basement into something that I had never seen before, but saw many times afterwards. It looked like a homeless shelter. There was probably six people that lived just in the basement. Beds, cots, and sleeping bags were strewn haphazardly all over the concrete floor. Next to every bed, each person had all of there belongings, which were shockingly few. Each person had a few backpacks and bags. In the far corner, there was a card table and three chairs where two men where playing cards. There was a tv on nearby ( this was in 2004 before you had to have a HD TV, cable, or a converter box to watch television). He lead us to a bed right in the middle of everything, ” “This is me”, he told us. He proceeded to introduce us to everyone in the room, all of who were friendly and polite. After we got on Stewie asked us if we would take us to go buy some ready. “Sure,” I responded, “but is there a bathroom that I can use?” “Third floor. I’ll take you.” We were in the basement, so the third floor was actually four levels up. I was stunned as I made my way through the house. Every bedroom, living room, office was rented out. There were people sleeping, living everywhere except for the bathroom and the kitchen. There was probably 30 people living there. In the master bedroom next to the bathroom sat the lady who owned the house, Mary. Stewie introduced me and told her that I needed to use the bathroom. “Go ahead,” she said.
That house was the first time that I had seen something like that, but I went on to discover how common it was. Someone will get a house or an apartment through Section 8 and pay $50 to $100 a month. They then charge everyone $10 a night to sleep there. It’s not a bad hustle.
After I used the restroom, we loaded up the Cavalier to get the ready. “Where you want to go?” Aaron asked. “Po homes,” was the answer we got. We took him to the Po homes, a large section of projects. We went into a court yard that was essentially an open air drug market. Dudes were yelling the names of their respective dope or coke as we walked by. Since we had never copped there before, we let Stewie take the lead. We got these 20s of ready that were HUGE. We were hooked. We went on to cop there all the time for awhile and showed it to everyone. Funnily enough, everyone that we showed the PO homes to got locked up there, except for us. See since the projects are government property, they can automatically arrest you for trespassing unless you live there. You don’t have to be dirty.
After we were done getting high, and before we left, Stewie asked us if we would pick us up that night and take us out to make money. We responded in the affirmative and we came pack at around midnight. We took him to an upscale neighborhood where he would go in driveways and go into unlocked cars. You would be shocked at not only how many people keep their cars unlocked, but how much they keep in those unlocked cars. Cash, credit cards, electronics, Rolex watches. It was shocking. It was never necessary to brake into anything. Actually, you want to make sure not to break into anything as that is another, much more serious offense. Some people even leave the keys for the car in the ignition. One day after we hadn’t seen Stewie in awhile, we saw him at Flatline in an Acura that he had obtained in such manner. Driving or riding around in stolen vehicles always scared me far too much to ever even get in a car that some one else stole, let alone steal one myself.
We hung out with Stewie everyday for a few weeks. One day we showed up and he wasn’t there. He didn’t have a cell phone and we stopped seeing him, hanging out with him. The last time we saw him was that day at Flatline, where he was in the Acura. Sometime in 2007, the house that he lived in burned down, and I have no idea whatever happened to Stewie, just another name, another face in the story of my life.

Staying Strong During the Storm – and the Calm Before the Storm

When a person is a recovered or recovering addict, they always have to be on their toes so to say. Obviously, it is easy to slip back into bad habits when shit gets rough. When we loose a loved one, when we (or someone close to us) gets sentenced to time in jail, when we loose a job, get sued, our car breaks down, whatever, we have to fight the urge to go back to our normal coping habits that we have used for so long. This is compounded by the fact that the universe seems to want to save up the repercussions for all of the bad shit we did as addicts until we are sober. 

As addicts we tend to have either never learned or forgotten normal, healthy coping mechanisms. If and when this shit from our past comes pact on us when we are doing well, the inner addict in our brain tells us, “This shit didn’t happen when you were getting high, but now that you are sober, the universe wants to fuck you in the ass. You might as well just be getting high.” At least then, we justify, thes bad things would be warranted. The thing that we often fail to be able to do, is take a step back and look at these events in our life as a big picture. The more bad things you do, the more bad shit that will come back on you. Even if you do not wish to believe in karma, this is inevitably true. Most of the things that we feel are “unfair” to happen to us as recovered addicts are directly linked to  things that we did as addicts, either to obtain our drugs, or because of said substances. For example, time that we get is almost definatley from an arrest that occurred while we are getting high. A job that we are not given may be due to a criminal record that we got from addiction. Bad credit? Probably due to unpaid bills or bad checks written to get money for drugs or because the money for the bills went to drugs.

Taking a step back allows us to see that getting high again will only set in motion this karmic train of retribution and self-pity and excuse for drug use again. It is difficult to remember that the drugs got us into this shit, but since most of these things are directly related to our addiction, as long as we allow ourselves to stop and think, we can usually see this. We caused the storm, and we now have to find a way to deal with it and right our wrongs.

Far more difficult, and dangerous is when the seas are calm and steady. When our lives are easy and boring almost. Say what you will about addicts, but our lives are never boring. We are constantly figuring out ways to make money, set those plans in motion, getting the money, copping, playing an endless cat and mouse game with the police, and then of course the actual high of the drugs. The drugs don’t provide the only high that we experience. Especially if the addict obtains their drug money illegally, they often become addicted to the adrenaline rush of whatever it is that they do. This is why so many bank robbers talk about being addicted to the thrill of robbing banks. (I personally don’t think that I would ever have the balls to do something like that, but I’m sure the adrenaline rush is crucial – if you don’t die of a heart attack while waiting to commit the crime). 

Not just the high that people get from committing crimes, it is such a fast, easy way to come about money that it is hard to go to minimum wage. Especially, we justify, if we weren’t spending so much money on drugs, we wouldn’t have to go about thanking on these sort of risks nearly as often. Going back to a bank robber, if they are a convicted bank robber, then they have a felony record meaning that very often the only kind of jobs that will take a chance on them is a minimum wage job. It is hard, mentally (and for one’s ego) to go from making $100,000 in 15 minutes to $7.95 an hour. Our inner addict, or the little devil inside of us, allows us to confidently forget about the legal ramifications involved with fast money. Even if we do think about it, we justify that we could commit these crimes far, far less as we won’t be spending hundreds or thousands a day on drugs. We will be taking much less risks. Never mind the fact that a real job, while low paying, also has a 0% chance of getting us arrested.

We also fail to process the underlying issue of all of these actions being connected. Try as we might, if we committed whatever crime in order to get money to buy drugs, we just can’t do them and not get high. Sure, we may do fine in the beginning, but eventually, inevitably, we talk ourselves into buying “just a little bit”. We justify that we have all of this fast, easy money, so it won’t hurt to buy a little something. It doesn’t help that very often, if hHe way the addict gets money is buy stealing something that is then sold to a fence, said fences are often in the parts of town right near the drugs. To get this money we have to go right by the places that we were used to copping our drugs. Especially if we do not live in the area where we sell the items and but the drugs, the pull is compounded even farther. It is hard to stay strong.

Addicts are used to living in a constant state of turmoil and commotion. We also tend to be self-sabatoging. When things in our lives are too easy or too calm for too long, we tend to fuck it up. It is often unintentional. We tend to not even know that we are doing it. We have to be exceedingly careful to not fall into either traps that can lead us back down the road of active addiction, either our lives being too calm or too hard. Our disease never goes away. We are never cured. We have to be vigilante for the rest of our lives. Without actively going out of our way to stay sober, we will slip back into addiction without even realizing it.