DEAR ABBY: I'm 18 years old and have learned something the hard way. Please print my letter so other teens may be spared what I went through.
A few months ago, I got caught shoplifting. I was escorted out of the department store by security and the police and my parents were notified. It was the most humiliating day of my life.
My crime cost me the trust of everyone important to me. My parents put me on restriction and wouldn't allow me to get my driver's license. The court slapped me with a $250 fine and ordered me to attend counseling sessions that cost my parents $70 an hour. Tomorrow I will finally reach the end of the court-ordered counseling program.
Abby, I have worked hard to rebuild my reputation. I have earned several awards from my school and landed a summer internship at a high-profile law firm. My family and I can now put this incident behind us -- but none of us will ever forget it.
I understand that teen shoplifting is a major problem for businesses. Kids use poor judgment and demonstrate sheer stupidity when they commit these crimes. It all comes down to greed and selfishness. Although it starts with taking a few shirts, it escalates to more expensive items. My message to fellow teens is: Don't do it! Sooner or later, you'll get caught, and nothing you can do will make up for what you have done.
Abby, I will never steal again. I'm sorry for what I did. I know many teens will not listen to my warning, but if a few do, then I'll be glad I wrote. -- SORRY TEEN-AGE THIEF
DEAR SORRY: Congratulations on your rehabilitation. Your desire to make other young people think twice before shoplifting is laudable. However, shoplifting is a crime not restricted to thrill-seeking teen-agers. It affects everyone because retailers pass those losses on to consumers, who pay for them in higher prices. I hope everyone who is tempted to shoplift will heed your warning.