I’d like to think I’m a good citizen. I’ve never been arrested. The worst I’ve had is a speeding ticket and that was 14 years ago. I’ve served on a jury. I vote. I pay my taxes.

But when I saw this story about a trio of shoplifters it brought back a recent incident. These three shoplifted thousands of dollars worth of cosmetics from the same drug store, a CVS in Glen Rock, more than once last month according to police.

Glen Rock police say they have security video of two women filling bags with makeup while the male of the three stood watch. Authorities say they went out to a car to unload the bags and then went back in five minutes later for more shoplifting.

According to police, they did this on two separate occasions at the same location, May 19 and May 24. Police say they appear to be the same shoplifters wanted from a March 14 case in Wayne.

It brought back a recent memory from a few months ago. Back in March I was at a local drugstore in Hunterdon County and saw a woman pick up one box of Motrin for infants. Having a 7 and 6-year-old, I’m very familiar with the box and I’m certain of what it was. Next I saw her grab a small package of either newborn or the next size-up diapers and nervously put both items into a bag with her back towards me.

Stacks of diapers for children isolated on white background.

With the new ban on plastic bags and the use of reusable, I didn’t think too much of it, because I’ve seen people do this as a tote just until they get to the register. After all, those plastic hand baskets are starting to be taken away by some stores because people were stealing them in reaction to the bag ban.

But when I got in line I did make a mental note to look to see if she got behind me. Well, she didn’t. She headed straight out of the store.


Here was my moral dilemma.

Had she been stealing makeup like is alleged in the Glen Rock case or anything else that was not a necessity, I definitely would have told a worker. In fact, I would have reported it even if it were just a small amount of some unnecessary item let alone thousands of dollars worth.

But she didn’t. She took infant Motrin and diapers. Nothing else I saw. And she didn’t look smug or carefree. She looked disheveled, poor and worried. It reminded me of the “Les Mis” plot about Jean Valjean who stole one loaf of bread to feed his starving family and was hunted for his remaining days.

I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t turn someone in who looked like a broke and worried mommy just trying to get bare essentials for a feverish baby.

I did nothing. So was this minding my business or was this failing as a good person and citizen? I guess that’s for you to decide.

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