Judge Orders Shoplifters To Wear Signs Reading "I Am A Thief I Stole From Walmart"

Don’t steal from the Walmart in Attala, Ala or Judge Kenneth Robertson Jr. will make you wear a sign that says, “I AM A THIEF I STOLE FROM WALMART.”

Lest you think that this sort of justice is not welcome at the store, let it be knows that the Walmart is all for it.

“Maybe they’ll think twice about doing it,” the store manager tells The Gadsden Times.

And what will happen to the signs when they’re done, you ask? The Walmart is keeping them available for use by future thieves. There’s something sort of Die Hard 3 about the whole thing, don’t you think? —MEGHANN MARCO

Sentence: Wear a sign that says ‘I AM A THIEF’ [USAToday]
(Photo: Dave Hyatt, The Gadsden Times via AP and USA Today)


Edit Your Comment

  1. IC18 says:

    It should have said “I AM A THIEF I STOLE FROM THIEVES”.

  2. Starfury says:

    This kind of punishment for small crimes is perfect. I’m all for it and think it should be done more.

    Maybe Paris should’ve gotten community service…Put her in an orange jumpsuit picking up trash on the side of the freeway for her punishment..1 yr of weekends.

  3. snazz says:

    doesnt public humiliation count as cruel & unusual punishment, and therefore illegal?

  4. neuracnu says:

    Delicious irony:

    The Scarlet Letter (paperback)
    Author: Hawthorne, Nathaniel

  5. orig_club_soda says:

    In a society that glorifies crimes, gang membership, and protects criminals more than the victims I have to say: Right on!

  6. homerjay says:

    @snazz: Unfortunately, it probably does and this will likely not last. Stupid constitution and its openness to interpretation!

  7. fluidfoundation says:

    where is it stated that public humiliation is cruel and unusual punishment?

    People need to be more humiliated for things these days, especially when its a dumb idea like shoplifting.

  8. @snazz: I don’t think this is the first time a sandwich board punishment has been utilized in the US recently, there was another judge (or maybe this is the same guy?) who was known for doling out that particular style of punishment and it was getting him some great press.

    In this case I believe it was given to her as a choice. It was either serve sixty days in jail for shoplifting, or wear a sign. Cruel and unusual? I don’t think so– not if you have a choice.

    She maintains her innocence, yet she’d rather wear the sign than go to jail on the conviction.


  9. JuliusJefferson says:

    As something_amazing said, according to the Birmingham News, she chose this punishment over more traditional punishment.

    And I hope this catches on!

  10. mopar_man says:


    I agree.

    I also wouldn’t have known that was a chick if I didn’t read the article.

  11. steinwaytony says:

    We mooch links from Drudge now?

  12. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    I wonder if anyone was tempted to jump her and steal the sign…

  13. AnnC says:

    Now I have to find my “I’m with stupid —>” sign.

  14. astrochimp says:

    I am a thief I stole from WalMart, hey?

    I once stole a thief from Wal-Mart, but it didn’ t turn me into one. (I got off lucky).

    In other words, I wonder if having to wear ambiguous grammar is part of the punishment.

  15. MaliBoo Radley says:

    If you going to shoplift, have a little discernment and taste. Don’t steal from walmart. Steal from Saks.

  16. Stealing from WalMart… Whatever helps that big box nightmare go away is fine with me. Flame on walmart fanboys.

  17. j_dot says:

    @radleyas: is there a saks anywhere near this alabama wal mart?

  18. TVarmy says:

    Lovely use of grammar. Was WalMart out of adhesive periods?

  19. MaliBoo Radley says:


    Hell if I know .. I don’t even live in the states anymore. But there has to be something a little more upmarket. I’d be embarassed to even be seen in a walmart!

  20. MariSama44 says:

    @radleyas & j_dot: The closest Saks to Attala and Gadsden is Saks, AL; a podunk town that consists of a strip of about a mile on highway 431 after Gadsden and before Anniston.

    You guys have to understand that the people who live in rural Alabama have no better places to shop. The closest Target is an hour away in Oxford on the interstate, and the only Saks 5th Avenue in the state is nearly two hours away in metro Birmingham. For many towns, Walmart is the only option for shopping. I used to live in Jacksonville which was very close to Gadsden and Attala (also in Arab, AL)…and the only thing to do on a friday night is go to Walmart. Thankfully, I’m back in Huntsville with my two Targets and two malls. Ahhh, culture…

  21. JuliusJefferson says:


    Actually yes, there’s a Saks Fifth Aveneue in Birmingham about 30-45 minutes away. In fact, Saks Incorporated is based in Birmingham.

  22. iMike says:


    They grows ’em feminine in Alabama.

  23. Mark says:

    i say we just cut their hands off like in some Muslim countries.

    People that seal are the scum of society… seriously… do something GOOD for your fellow man instead of stealing.

  24. MaliBoo Radley says:


    I’m sure they are a minority, but what about those who steal just to feed themselves or their families?

  25. @Mark: What do we do to people who get into bar fights? Beat them to death with sticks?

    Seriously, we’re talking about someone trying to shoplift and not very expensive items at that. It doesn’t warrent chopping off body parts.

  26. mopar_man says:

    People that seal are the scum of society… seriously… do something GOOD for your fellow man instead of stealing.

    People that steal from Wal-Mart ARE trying to help out their fellow man.

  27. Framling says:

    @astrochimp: You don’t understand, she WAS the thief that she stole. If she’s stealing herself, can we really blame her? to paraphrase the great Hermes Conrad, she’s just got the munchies for freedom.

  28. MonkeySwitch says:

    I just escaped rural Alabama myself. I thought I recognized that guy for a minute… until I read that it was a girl! =O

    Anyways, making her wear the sign isn’t cruel and unusual punishment– making her live in Atalla is!

  29. shdwsclan says:

    Well, thats the law, cruel and unusual….

    Cruel it may be, but unusual it is not….remember how our countries founding fathers locked offenders in stockades in the city square ?…

  30. Trick says:


    We mooch links from Drudge now?

    Who cares? If you don’t like Drudge how is it that you even know what is on his website?

  31. DashTheHand says:

    Public humiliation is perfect for offenders. However, I think it should already be on top of the common punishment of jail time, fines, house arrest, whatever.

    Why stop here? Make them do commercials for the local channels that they can play in between news segments or during other popular tv viewing hours.

  32. Paul D says:


    Wow. A society that protects criminals more than victims?


  33. gamble says:

    You know, if she had stolen from Saks, she probably wouldn’t have gotten caught. I know at nicer retail stores, the employees aren’t allowed to accuse people of stealing. Its some kind of thing where they want to avoid the slightest chance of making a mistake in accusing someone who is not actually stealing. And even if they’re sure someone is stealing, they don’t want the employees to be injured in case the thief becomes hostile. At both of the clothing stores I’ve worked at, if we saw someone stealing, we were told to make suggestive phrases. Like tell them that there’s a shirt that will look great with those pants (the pants being what they are stealing). After that, however, we weren’t allowed to do anything – not even call the mall cops.

    So basically, next time you go shoplift, go to a more upscale store than Wal-Mart. Its a win-win.

  34. she chose this punishment

    That’s generally how it works: in cases like this, the punishment usually is signed off on by the defendent in exchange for the charges being dropped.

  35. valet_of_the_dolls says:

    @Mark: That’s a great idea; then they won’t hate you for your freedoms no more!

  36. @TVarmy (et al.):

    Yes, yes, you’re very smart with your grammatical know-how, but do you know why you understood the sentence anyway? It’s because the line break between “THIEF” and “I STOLE” functions as a syntactical buffer.

    Personally, I’d have emphasized it–a period would work, but so would more space between the two lines to highlight the distinction between a line break that creates a caesura and one that doesn’t (that is, all the rest). Nevertheless, the line break does its job, because we can all read this sentence without genuine confusion.

  37. EditorPerson says:

    @TVarmy: Actually, it would be an adhesive semicolon.

  38. arelys521 says:

    Oh man, someone should make that into a t-shirt! I’d wear it…

  39. Youthier says:

    Is this really any more humiliating than going to jail? I suppose you are admitting that you’ve entered a Wal-Mart…

  40. freakinalex says:

    This reminds me of an Arrested Development episode where Buster had to stand in a store with his hook and hold a sign saying “I stole.”

    It was much funnier when it was a fictional story on a television show. This is just sad.

  41. Bourque77 says:

    Why I can disagree with this punishment. As wal-mart would tell you (if they were honest). The majority of theft comes from employees of retail stores, not customers. So perhaps they should be more concerned about that? And who decides to embarass themselves like that?

  42. duckyvoodoo says:

    Public humiliation as a form of punishment is a slippery slope. Some of you are crowing about her being a theif and deserving it, so why not just bring back the stocks? @neuracnu, the scarlet letter comparison is very apt.

  43. AcidReign says:

    …..Attalla is one of the cheapest places in the state to stop for gas on I-59. They had regular for $2.79 a couple of weekends ago at the Jet-Pep…

    …..I think Walmart is reaping the natural consequences for self-serve checkout. There’s a chunk of the populace who will “forget” to scan a few things, with that good of an opportunity.

    …..I’d watch out what you say about them Lookout Mountain women! Look at ’em calves. She’d break all of yer ribs if she got a’holt a you!

  44. Musician78 says:

    Jails don’t seem to work all that well, therefore I am all fore public humiliation. It is about time America does something like this. Unfortunately, we are usually too busy worrying about the criminals than victims. And even though it is Wal-Mart, and I despise Wal-Mart, I despise thieves even more. Scumbags.

  45. Musician78 says:

    I wish there was a was to correct your spelling errors after you post… *sigh*

  46. IRSistherootofallevil says:

    Stealing from Walmart IS a service to mankind. If you want to be treated with dignity, don’t shop at Wal-Mart.

  47. Timbojones says:

    Jail is cruel and unusual punishment. I’d much rather see things like this. Bring back the stock and pillory!

  48. bentcorner says:

    Stole from Wal-Mart? I thought I read that losses from shop lifters is always passed on to the customer. Even when it’s done by their associates.

    Doesn’t that mean Mrs. Mullet stole from other Wal-Mart customers? Once that actually pay?

    At least Wal-Mart didn’t make her dress up in a Nazi Waffen SS uniform. Considering their never ending love for all things Nazi, I’m kinda surprised.

  49. LearningForever says:

    Steal from Walmart?

    Wow, I wonder if any judges will ever make Walmart say they steal from the US people!

    Afterall, Walmart’s expansion is fueled by the US tax payers who gave Walmart federal, state and city assistance to build their buildings which they also promptly abandon when it is no longer good enough. Even better, the many businesses that they have put out and people that they have put out of job and then rehired at half the salary they were being paid for.

    Wow, will there ever be a judge who will order Walmart to STOP stealing from the US people?

  50. duckyvoodoo says:

    But doesn’t Jet-Pep water down their gas with alchohol? Or is that rural myth.

  51. AcidReign says:

    …..@duckyvoodoo: Heh. If they did that, they could charge more, calling it E-15 or E-85, or some such! And lots of “green” points, too! And of course, there’s the fact that currently it’s cheaper to manufacture gasoline out of crude than it is to produce ethanol…

    …..Watering has happened at various stations in the past, mainly opening the tank cover and running ye olde water hose in there for an hour or so… Thing is, that when you do that, the gasoline engine runs like crap. The practice got so commonplace in the 1950s in Alabama, that rigid inspection laws got passed, along with hefty taxes to pay for it.

    …..These days, watering is more likely to happen due to groundwater and old, cracked tanks. If an inspector finds evidence of treated water in a tank, people can go to jail.

    …..Jet Pep keeps it cheap mainly through using old, decrepit, worn-out facilities. There’s a Jet-Pep on US 280 around Childersburg that still has rotary numbers on their gas pumps. Do they have all of the additives of the name brands? Probably not. Use the stuff all the time in a fuel-injected engine, and you might have problems. A tank every now and then is no big deal.

  52. XianZhuXuande says:

    Awesome punishment for theft.
    Wow… if I was a thief, I would be embarrassed to advertise I stole from Wal*mart…

  53. supedve says:

    Can’t we give them one of those corner “Spinner” signs and have them stand out on a corner doing the dirty work for the store? I purposely stay away from those stores that use this new form of obnoxious marketing. I specifically stay away from stores that advertise that way.

  54. Uriel says:

    ahh, they must’ve stolen more than $20 worth.

  55. poornotignorant says:

    @bentcorner: That’s a fallacy, corporations set prices at what the market can bear. It’s only another marketing ploy, if you fall for it.

  56. mikecolione says:

    I agree with this solution.

    Now if we can just get the store managers and executive management out there wearing signs that say “I am a thief, I steal from my employees” pay and benefits will increase.

  57. mwshook says:

    Hey MariSama, I’m from Huntsville and my Wife’s from Gadsden. Although we live in Florida now.