“Please let me sleep in my own bed tonight.”

This is the plea of the barcode-switching, price-scamming, college freshman shoplifter Jonathan Baldino after getting busted trying to buy a $149 ipod for $4.99 at Target.

The whole story is here. Me, I think a few nights in jail will do the kid good. He may even get college equivalency credit for DON’T STEAL STUFF YOU MORON 101.


47 thoughts on ““Please let me sleep in my own bed tonight.””

  1. “I am extremely sad now”? Ha! There is such a thing as genuine remorse, but that isn’t it. That’s a transparent and pathetic attempt to get off the hook.

    1. why are we hearing his plea though? Isn’t that stuff confidential?


      Any and all statements, written and/or verbal, become part of the police report and the public record. His written words will be forever contained in the police report for anyone to review, probably even on line.

      (This rule is somewhat throttled back depending on the state in juvenile cases and sexual assaults.)

  2. He’s damn lucky I won’t be determining his sentence. Premediatated, preplanned, repeated theft, with a plea for leniency I wouldn’t take from a fifteen-year-old, much less an adult Electrical Engineering major.

  3. Heh, I saw that.

    If I got a whiny letter like that I’d be throwing the book at him, and it looks like they are – felony forgery instead of just the misdemeanors he’d likely have gotten normally.

    He’s not sorry for what he did, he’s sorry someone found out, and sorry there’s a *gasp* penalty!

    1. He’s not sorry for what he did, he’s sorry someone found out, and sorry there’s a *gasp* penalty!

      On its own, the threat of possible future punishment is rarely sufficient to deter an undesired behavior.

      Performing a behavior that could result in the aforementioned punishment, and not getting punished reinforces the behavior. (It leads to, “I don’t get caught for breaking a rule,” thinking.)

      Increasing the magnitude of the punishment has a much smaller impact on how well it suppresses the undesired behavior than you’d expect it to.

      Aside from applying to this particular thief’s behavior, I see the consequences of the aforementioned “rules” every day while driving. People speed, cut people off… They do all sorts of crazy and illegal stuff. Why? They know about the same traffic laws I know about. They see the same accidents – often injurious or even fatal – on I-35 and Mopac in Austin, TX. Why do they put themselves and the people around them at risk? Because people – all people – are very good at believing that bad things will not happen to them. Bad things happen to other people but not to you. This thief didn’t have sufficient additional deterrents to block bad behavior, succeeded in the behavior (and was thereby “rewarded” for it), and continued to engage in it until he was caught.

      I know it sounds corny, but (in addition to blaming the thief himself) I blame the thief’s upbringing. Relying exclusively on laws and security systems to ensure that people will, “be good,” is insufficient. Building a healthy social compass is a critical part of becoming a mature adult.


      1. Another Austinite, ‘eh?

        A lot of it is simply people only being concerned with themselves. Any time we’re doing something, some part of us is asking “what do I get out of it.” Speeding? I get there faster. Cutting him off? I get to be in front. It’s a lot of argument between the “me” voice and the “what *they* tell me is right.”

        People see a lot of laws as “It’s this way because someone else says it’s this way. I didn’t make this choice, so where’s the value in me caring?”

      2. uhm…welcome to America

        While I agree whole-heartedly regarding the implausibility of laws deterring someone brought up without a social compass, we are living in a country that has for the past few decades increasingly tried to live by the code that “you” have no right to tell “me” what is right and what is wrong. How can this behavior be any suprise?

        The oppressive social attitudes of the 50’s have been replaced by the ludicrous social attitudes of the nothings…

        Oh well, the guy does deserve a few nights in the pokey. Society needs a poke in the eye. I’ll just continue to raise my rambunctious daughter with my understanding of right and wrong and hope that it spreads…


  4. When I worked at a beer store ten years ago, we had an off-duty police officer who would come act as paid security in his regular uniform.
    He told me about a case where a man was caught enacting a similar scam.
    He’d pre-print barcode labels on his computer at home, and bring the labels in his day-planner. He’d choose moderately expensive items like televisions and stereo components, and get the barcode info from a low-end model and affix the fake label over the real barcode of a high-end model. Then he’d buy it for the price of the low-end model, go to a different store and RETURN the item after removing the fake barcode.
    According to my buddy the cop, the guy spent his days working this scam as his “job”, then spent all the money he “earned” buying Magic: The Gathering cards.
    He was caught when a customer noticed him remove something from his day-planner and stick it onto a box. He was apparently quite a traveller, and may not have even had a home residence. The cop said his truck was FULL of stolen merchandise and thousands and thousands of Magic cards.
    It’s sad what people will resort to in order to satisfy their particular addictions or obsessions.

    1. See…

      This is why I stopped playing that game…

      *In best Yoda voice*
      Geekdom leads to Collectable Card Game starter decks…

      Collectable Card Game starter decks lead to expensive expansion packs…

      Expensive expansion packs lead to Prison Shower Rape…

  5. You know…

    If he’d been caught doing something like that in a Vegas casino, Lord knows what they would have done to him…

    He’ll probably end up with probabtion, since he’s most likely without a criminal record (Or at least without one that isn’t sealed)…

    I hope he gets jail time though… And that he gets a “friendly” cell mate…

    Talk about getting it in the end…

    What? Don’t you judge me…

    1. I disagree.

      18 years old is plenty old enough to know right from wrong. What he was doing is plain and simple stealing. By six or seven he should have known that was wrong. His own letters express remorse only at finding out the penalty was so severe. (Sounds like he was used to whining his way out of trouble at home. Funny how that doesn’t work in the real world, isn’t it?)

      But don’t worry, Colorado’s prisons are very crowded. They’re not interested in jailing this dweeb for any significant length of time. He’ll probably get shock probation and then if he’s good for two or three years and makes restitution the entire matter will simply evaporate. He moves on with no record (that the public can get to) and a powerful life lesson.

      1. Looks like you misinterpreted what I said. Let me rephrase. He has a kid mentality. He is immature. I agree with you, he needs a few lessons from the school of hard knocks.

        1. My apologies then and we are on the same page. He will be thoroughly and memorably spanked by the system. I’m certain Target is pressing to have him nailed to a cross in their parking lot, but Colorado has bigger fish to fry.

      2. What this kid neeps is some humiliation. Something short and sweet and really memorable that will stick in his head and make him remember “theft != good idea”. I don’t know if jailtime will do it.

      3. I think most of the age limits are ridiculously stupid anyway.

        8, 18, or 80, it doesn’t matter. “Theft is wrong” “killing someone is wrong”, all of those are generally understood completely before someone has hit the double digits. If they aren’t, then you throw the parents in jail for abject stupidity and failure to obtain a license before procreating.

        The rare person that can’t comprehend that by the time he’s 18-20 is usually considered a sociopath. Most of those learn to follow the rules, even if they don’t understand them or care about them.

        Don’t toss him in jail. There’s no point. Fine him three times the amount of the device, give $150 to the store, and put $300 in the treasury.


        1. I think a short stay in the clink would enhance his life lesson just enough to discourage future misdeeds on his part. By short I’m talking a few days. Possibly what he’s already served waiting for mommy and daddy to bail his young tail out will suffice. This is a key element in shock probation programs around the country.

          But a mere fine? He needs a much more harsh lesson then buying his way out the trouble. How about a fine and some baseband humiliation? Let’s sit him in front of the store wearing a sign with HUGE letters saying, “I am a thief (although not a very good one) and I stole from this store.” OR perhaps a few days on “orange suit community service?”

  6. Mmm, chatspeak.

    And now, chat-speak theatre!

    JBaldino: omg guyz im so sorryy dun jail me plz let me go im just a kid :((( lol.
    Denver Police Department: omg kid were so sorryyy we haf to book u coz ur a legal adult now and no1 iz above teh law lol.
    Every1Else: LOLOLOL PWNED.

    So sorry, lol.

  7. Okay, he was re-pricing a $150 item for $5 and he thought he could get away with it?


    This is doing nothing for the suave, romantic and rebellious reputations established by the cunning rapscallions and n’er-do-wells of yesteryear.

      1. Re: except…

        I don’t understand why most criminals aren’t smarter. I mean, seriously – he got away with it, right? Don’t try it again, at the same place, within half a year – to say nothing of a week or two!

        If he wanted to try it again, he should’ve headed to a different store. 😛

      2. Re: except…

        Honestly, I don’t feel half a twinge of anything that he’s sorry. Every criminal (in some way shape or form) is “sorry” once they get caught. What irks me is that he didn’t have the decency to use one whit of guile or caution. He just outright duped ignorant or incompetent employees. $145 is just a brazen discrepancy and that makes the fact that he’s whining and simpering to ply the sympathies of the authorities all that much more insulting.

        At least if he’d done something clever I could read the story and say “Wow… clever thief! Good thing he got caught.”. But this? This is just sad. He didn’t outwit anyone. He’s just scum exploiting the fact that half the people who work in the megaconglomomarts of America don’t get paid enough to care.

    1. Yeah, you reprice a $150 item for $75 and then you sell it on ebay for $100+ through a couple places.

      As a bonus, have a ring. Print out a Bogus Ad that your associates will use when you and your homeys hit the store. Get about 10 or 15 of them.

      1. As a bonus, have a ring. Print out a Bogus Ad that your associates will use when you and your homeys hit the store. Get about 10 or 15 of them.

        It’s been done and led to changes in in printed ad price matching. Now the ads have to come from published newspapers or full mini-catalog style inserts. Most stores will no longer price match single page fliers.

        1. Still could be faked though. Expensive and difficult, but possibly worth the money if the product is nice enough. Then again, maybe they check with the newspapers on the ads, which would make it a waste.

  8. Two charges they missed

    They forgot to charge him with criminal stupidity (a capital offense eventually) and wanting an ipod in the first place (over-priced, under-featured, status symbol… I’ll stick to my MP3 players…but hey, it’s got a pretty face!).

    I look forward to seeing this guy win a darwin some day.

    1. Re: Two charges they missed

      The principal advantage iPods have over everything else is that you can work them like a stereo — blindfolded, you can skip, pause, rewind, adjust volume, etc. Every other device I’ve had has failed that test miserably.

      If you want to play music, the device you use should have the right set of controls.


      1. Re: Two charges they missed

        My SanDisk mp3 player rides in my pocket all the time, and I operate it without looking at it. All of the buttons are easy to find with my fingertips.

        Granted, it’s not all shiny. But hey, I don’t care. Same storage space iPod cost $75 more last year, when my fella bought it for me for Christmas.

  9. amoral kids

    There was an article recently about this 20 year old, who was living in his parents basement. No mention if he had a job, though it’s possible. But he became upset because his parents refused to pay his car insurance. This caused him grave distress. So, after due consideration, he determined a solution to his problem. He lit his bed on fire, and went to WalMart to by himself a new DVD. Luckily a neighbor alerted his folks to the smoke coming from their basement, and they were able to evacuate themselves and their other children, while neighbors called the fire department. A while later, the young male returned home, where he was confronted by a policeman. He readily admitted lighting his bed ablaze, explaining that he was distraught over his parents refusal to pay for his car insurance. The policeman asked if it hadn’t occurred to him that his family members might have been injured, and wasn’t he concerned about this. He agreed that the thought had crossed his mind, but he REALLY cared about his car; it’s a red Camaro !

    I was a bit disappointed that the article didn’t mention whether he had been hauled off to jail yet, or what his parents reaction to this was. Talk about a seriously screwed up world view…. MoveOn will be recruiting THIS one !

  10. Oy

    First, he’s not just a kid. He’s 18. And soon will have a felony record. No voting for him. No gun permit. And it WILL affect his employability.

    The real issue is the lack of responsibility. I teach college freshmen and I see this crap all the time. A student yesterday blatantly plagiarized part of his paper, while simultaneously NOT doing what I told them to do (use and cite quotes from the novel itself). He got an F. He wants to rewrite it. I asked why he should be able to? “I did it wrong the first time.” Yes, yes you did. But 65 other students did it RIGHT the first time and you’re a pinhead who thought you could fake or lazy your way through the assignment. Guess who’s the bad guy? Me.

    Another student decided that our Thanksgiving break was insufficient for his purposes, and took off the whole week, missing a crucial prelim to go to Las Vegas. (Note: He doesn’t have any family in Vegas, not that that would be *much* of an excuse). He wants to make up the exam. He only approaches me with this idea AFTER I’d already handed back the other exams, which means he could borrow the questions from another student. I tell him his priorities are screwed up and he’s going to take a zero on the exam. Guess who’s the bad guy again? Me.

    Anyone who tries to make people see the consequences of their actions is the bad guy. More than that, many public school systems have spent 12 years getting students used to the idea that while there are laws, they don’t REALLY apply: That attendance policy isn’t really enforced. SO when students miss more than 2 weeks of class and I fail them, they threaten to lawyer up. SERIOUSLY. Either that or I get irate calls from their parents (to whom, thanks to FERPA, I legally cannot speak). Kids are raised with this idea that childhood is a magical place to play and have fun and mess around, and seem to think that ‘adulthood’ recedes like the horizon. I’m not advocating a return to Victorian chaining-kids-to-factory-equipment, but perhaps we’ve taken this lack of responsibility for actions in childhood theme a bit too far?


    1. Re: Oy

      Grr, attendance policies. Ours has no teeth, and let me tell you, we’re all sick of that.

      I teach 9th graders. You tell them “you’re all failing at the moment because you didn’t do your homework all marking period” and they give you this look like “we have homework in this class?” Then they want to make it all up in the last week of the marking period, turning it in to you the day before grades are due. If you say no, their parents schedule meetings with about how to make their kids get better grades and ask if there’s any work they can make up so that they don’t fail.

      The reason none of these kids have any kind of moral code or responsibility is that they’re parents make talk the talk, but don’t act like it when it comes to their own kids.

      “then you throw the parents in jail for abject stupidity and failure to obtain a license before procreating. “

      I wish. If I were in charge, you’d need a license, and it would be hard to get.

      1. Re: Oy

        My sisters have had a great deal of trouble with her kids, and schooling. Despite years of teaching them that they are, in fact, responsible for their own actions.. well, they try to weasel. They find themselves struggling with the general impression of “meh” the kids are surrounded with, but they do struggle to overcome it. Daily.

        Every year, she has to convince the teachers that yes, she does in fact care that they do what they need to do, but that she doesn’t know what the assignments are and thus can’t really enforce it. Most of the boys’ teachers will e-mail if the kids miss an assignment, or if there’s a large project coming up, or even if they’re just having trouble “getting it.” This lets the parent get involved in a way that’s impossible, practically speaking, otherwise. It’s very hard to disprove it when your teenager says “I don’t have any homework.”… but when you have an e-mail from a teacher, or some sort of class schedule, it gives the parent ammunition.

        Teenagers (and many adults) are creatures of the moment. Report Card Day seems a million miles away, until suddenly it is upon them. It is imperative that the parent be involved on a day-to-day basis with keeping the kids on the move, or their own short-sightedness will be their downfall. And.. well, sometimes, letting your kid fail, and giving real, tangible consequences, is the only way to bring a point home.

        The trouble is that many parents are not willing to make the day-to-day effort, to handle their own responsibility as parents, to keep their kids doing what they ought, in school and in life. If the parents aren’t responsible for their own actions.. how on earth can the kids be any better? /sigh

  11. If I were running the world.

    Not only would it require a license for procreation in a world run by me, but anyone demonstrating such colossal stupidity would be forcibly sterilized. Think it’s ok to drive drunk? Snip snip. How many guys would drive drunk when they knew getting caught would mean saying bye to the boys? How many women would drive drunk knowing it meant giving up the idea of children?
    Murderers? None of this 25 to life bull. Anyone that knows the law knows that 25 years in prison isnt REALLY 25 years. Something to do with how they count the years, I might look it up later. If I were running things, not only would murderers get their nuts cut off, they would recieve a life sentence of hard labor. No early release, no parole. You work your ass off until you die.
    And welfare. That would go out the window too. Not entirely mind you, but it wouldnt be anything like it is now. I can understand that some people are down on their luck from time to time. But if you cant find a job within 3 or 4 months, you’re obviously avoiding work. Don’t want to work at mcdonald’s? Tough shit. So you wont be able to afford all those expensive toys you like. Deal with it and live within your means. With the welfare rules where I live, people on welfare actually make more and more money just by having more kids. If you’re on welfare, you shouldnt be having kids. Period.
    Thieves? How many thieves did you think there were in the medieval muslim states? Take a loaf of bread and lose your right hand? No thanks, I’ll just go chew on some grass. Oh wait, there isnt any in the desert.

    And while I agree that tougher penalties are rarely a good deterrent until after the fact, it would prevent some people from committing crimes, and it would keep criminals from ever reentering the population.

    The biggest problem in North America today is the way that we look at things. A group of kids go to school and mow down their classmates. It’s video games that made them do it. A kid never goes to class and gets a failing grade. It’s the teachers fault. A kid takes a class in which they are completely unskilled and have NO chance of passing. It’s the teacher’s fault for not spoon feeding them the information. A kid gets caught stealing from a store, or stealing a car, or beating up some other kid… “It’s video games and movies, it’s not his fault.” or “He must have learned it from tv, it’s not MY fault.”

    We have made an art form these days of evading responsibilty. We always try to shift the blame to something or someone else. Let’s get one thing straight, the only person responsible for our actions is us. Just for example, I took mechanical engineering for 3 years before getting kicked out for low grades. Yes there were circumstances that made my life more stressful, and didnt help any. But ultimately it was my mistake. I stopped going to classes. I stopped doing assignments. I fucked up. My parents are still trying to find excuses for me, 3 and a half years later. The death of my favorite uncle (the only relative that I could relate to in any way), living with my (very strict and victorian) grandparents (who are extremely religious, while I am extremely not), and the list goes on. And every time I try to tell my parents that I simply fucked up, end of story, they get more creative in their excuse making.

    And let me say this one last thing. I love video games, and movies. The gorier and more violent, the better. I have done incredibly sadistic things in video games. But out in the real world, I felt bad about killing the mice in my apartment. (Courtesy of the people upstairs who didnt close the cage properly.)

    1. Re: If I were running the world.

      I’m not even going to touch the majority of what you said — esp. regarding welfare, since I used to hold your position myself until I took some classes in Econ…

      That being said, I don’t think forced sterilization will work. Once it happens once, it can never be used as a threat again. A huge number of offenders are repeat offenders. A punishment that only works once isn’t going to be effective. Once it kicks in, the person will have nothing to lose.

      I will however agree with you on the notion that evasion of responsability is a major problem. When a person can say, “Yes, I screwed up, and I am prepared to accept the punishment that results from my screwing up… then and only then do you know they meen it.”

      While I wouldn’t be ready to toss the afore mentioned Ipod theif into jail for a -long- time, a hefty fine and a few nights in a lockup would be a good start. He knows the next time he WON’T get off so lucky, and he’s probably learned a very valuable lesson about how effective the security system of a store are.

      Snapping his picture and posting it across all the retail stores in the town with a “theif” warning wouldn’t hurt either. It ain’t slander (or liebel) if it’s true.

      1. Re: If I were running the world.

        Ack. Apologies for the many spelling and grammar errors in my previous post. Preview, PREVIEW, not post comment.

        Fortunately the semantics remain about the same, even if I screwed the syntax.

      2. Re: If I were running the world.

        Well, the thing is I see far far too many people on welfare who are simply working the system. Some of them are even working under the table and getting extra money from that.
        Just for one example, there is a family I know who is on welfare with 4 kids. The parents arent married (not sure how they deal with commonlaw in regards to welfare here) and their oldest son has recently fathered a child. The parents claim all their children, plus their grandchild as dependents (and the son, who gets his own welfare check besides, claims his child as a dependent).
        These people have skidoos, jet skis, atvs, satellite tv, computers I can only dream about… and all of this between welfare and a little carpentry work the father does under the table.
        Not only that, but the grandchild’s mother is still living at home (her family is on welfare as well) and her parents claim her as a dependent, and she claims her child as a dependent, even though the father is already doing so. And do you know what she said to the daughter of a friend of mine? (And this is a direct quote of what my friend’s daughter repeated to me) “You should have a baby, the government gives you so much money.”

        And part of the point of forced sterilization is to remove unacceptable people from the breeding pool. Is criminal behavior genetic? Maybe, maybe not. But a) why take the chance? and b) do you really want these people raising kids? Think of it as an extension of the idea regarding the need of a license to procreate.
        Your idea of public humiliation is actually the best deterrent for the average person. To see your picture up in every store you go to, declaring you as a thief, and knowing that all the employees are going to watch every move you make. Society has conditioned us to be self concious, so this kind of humiliation could be very effective. (Much like the ‘wall of shame’ that some stores have for bounced checks or unpaid bills.)

        1. Re: If I were running the world.

          You’re dead on in everything you say about wellfare, that being said, what you describe is a problem with the system, not with the concept.

          This massive “I claim people as a dependant and they claim ME as a dependant” has been very abused in Canada. In Ontario, they implimented a system whereby which everyone that gets a wellfare check needs to show up, IN PERSON, for fingerprinting, and I think somewhere between 10%-30% of the people just disappeared. More than likely they never existed.

          Any ideal wellfare setup would automatically subtract extravagant purchases from the money dolled out. Hell, I think a “if you want to go on wellfare you are required to cancel all cable/satilite/internet (barring some basic slow speed stuff, some people NEED that for work) would get people out of the house and doing jobs.

          On the other hand, if you have 6 children but have been paying taxes your whole life — the government should be there for you in the short term if something bad happens. After all, children should not suffer because parents are unlucky or even stupid.

          I don’t really think, however, forced sterilization is the answer. Yes you can remove then from the gene pool, but behaviour is largely taught. You might be an angry/agressive person genetically, but I think it’s social conditioning that differentiates the agressive business go-getter, or the harsh movie director from a would-be murderer.

          Intelligent, cappable people are also just as cappable of crime. Organized drug rings have a -board of directors-. All of the money flows up the chain. One economist compared it very much to a modern franchise. It’s not the genes that are the problem here.

          Also, lets be honest, some people don’t want children. Some people have had all the children they want. Deterrants have to be universally unpleasant to work. Thats one of the reasons I like the wall of shame idea. Not only does it tell people in a very personal way “THIS COULD BE YOU” but it also serves to remind the employees “if you see this guy, check the sticker twice. Or deny service.”

          1. Re: If I were running the world.

            In my first post I said that I’d do away with welfare, but then amended that with “at least as we know it” or something to that effect.

            People can be down on their luck. That’s what unemployment is for. You work, you pay your taxes, and if you hit a run of bad luck, you get unemployment. I know people on welfare who never worked a day in their life. In fact, the only people I have ever met who were on welfare who actually went out to find a job were the friends I mentioned. She got a job on her own, and he got a job because a bunch of people at work quit at once, and I told him that he was going to come work with me, instead of living off welfare and staying home while his girlfriend was out working.

            Incidentally, after a couple years, he quit, and in the past 2 or 3 months has made no attempt to find another job. (There was a possible job through his cousin on a fishing boat, but I havent heard about that since before he quit, and his girlfriend is trying to get him hired where she works. Needless to say I dont really hang out with him too much anymore.)

          2. Re: If I were running the world.

            Oh, one last thing… The concept of welfare is a charity. Something to help those less fortunate. But by being state-run and using tax money that we are required to pay, it is no longer a charity. And it serves only to make welfare bums like those I described feel entitled to money without having to work for it.
            The concept of a system for helping the less fortunate is good. The actual practice of it, when adding human beings into the equation, throws the mother of all monkey wrenches into the works. Much like communism, in that respect.

            (Something I heard once: Everything in the universe can be reduced to a math problem. The location, speed, and mass of ever atom, molecule, planet and star. Every little thing is a number in the governing equation of the universe. The human mind is the imaginary number that makes the answer wrong.)

        2. Re: If I were running the world.

          Oh, and sorry if I sounded a bit harsh in my first post, but people like this thief are my biggest pet peeves. The whole forced sterilization thing was originally a joke with my friends (who were on welfare at the time) just after their 3rd child together. (All 3 of their children have been put up for adoption.)
          Call me crazy, but I dont think that people on welfare should be having more kids, and I REALLY dont think that anyone without a serious disability should be allowed to live off welfare for as long as the majority of welfare recipients I have met. If you cant find a job in 3 or 4 months, you are either completely unemployable, or you are going out of your way not to find work. If you get stuck flipping burgers for a living, well, thems the breaks.

          Oh, and this is in Canada, by the way. I dont know how things are run down in the states. Up here, there’s no need to worry about medical bills, and if you know how, it is more than possible to work the system for a free ride.

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