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This week’s dilemma is as follows:

You’re at a romance reader’s convention (yeah, you’ve been there for a while *g*). You meet a lovely woman named Tina, who’s really excited to be there. She tells you that she’s saved all year to make it this year, and she can’t wait to meet the authors. You spend quite a bit of time with her, and she confides in you that her hubby has been seriously ill, and because his medical bills were so astronomical (sic), at one point, she wasn’t sure she’d be able to make it here.

Later, you part ways in order to go and see your respective fave authors.

You’re walking out of the signing suite, when you spot Tina. You’re about to call out to her, when you see her bend over, pick up a wallet, and quickly stuff it in her bag. You assume she’s just dropped her purse, and think nothing of it.

Five minutes later one of the convention organisers gets on the microphone and announces that one of the attendees has lost her wallet. She asks for anybody who has seen the purse to come and see her. She describes the purse in detail and it dawns on you that the wallet that you witnessed Tina picking up earlier, obviously wasn’t hers. You wait for her to approach the organiser, but she doesn’t make a move.

You confront her with your suspicions, and urge her to hand the wallet in. She laughs nervously, and tells you that she has no idea what you’re talking about.

What do you do? Do you leave it alone, taking into consideration what a tough year she’s had, or do you report her to the convention organisers, because at the end of the day, stealing is just plain wrong?

What would you do???

26 Comments »


  • Babz
    September 25
    10:25 am

    I’d tell. I’m sorry for what she’s going through, but a wallet’s more than money.

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  • I mention what I saw to the organizers and let them handle it. Theft is theft whether its lifting a wallet or pirating an ebook.

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  • I’d report her. How dare she assume her financial predicament gives her the right to steal from others! How can she know the person whose purse she stole isn’t just as hard up as she is?

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  • Willa
    September 25
    10:44 am

    I’d report her to the organisers. Seeing her take the purse is the only thing you can be sure of – her ‘story’ about her financial situation may just be that – a story.

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  • sallahdog
    September 25
    11:47 am

    I am always skeptical when someone you just met tells you their personal tale of woe…. That is exactly what con artists do in order to get you to let your guard down….

    So I would turn her in, because the person losing the wallet may actually be in a worse position financially than this lady (and frankly, if she is in that bad of a position, what the heck is she doing at the convention, there is always another year, this isn’t a dieing wish or something)…

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  • Marianne McA
    September 25
    12:02 pm

    I agree with everyone else: she’s there, so she’s not completely broke – there are no extenuating circumstances.

    Even if she was actually broke, I don’t think the situation changes. If I’m overcome with compassion for her circumstances, the option I have is to help her myself – I’ve no right to give her somebody else’s money.

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  • Yep, I’d tell. Don’t know that they could do anything, it’s my word against hers and they’d have no right to search her, but maybe if confronted with security or the convention organizers, she’d give it back. It’s been a rough year for everyone, stealing’s not the answer.

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  • joanne
    September 25
    1:20 pm

    Could be she thinks I’m nuts because she really doesn’t know what I’m talking about.

    Still, I’d probably say something to one of the organizers knowing they won’t be able to do anything because of what someone ‘thought’ they saw.

    I truly believe that karma attacks at the most unexpected times so if she stole the wallet than that act will come back to haunt her and I could and would leave it at that.

    I also know that people often disappoint me but they also often surprise me with their decency.

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  • I’d find a convention volunteer and quietly tell on her. While I’m sorry for her personal hardships, who is to say that the other attendee isn’t going through something similar?

    Theft is theft and personal hardships don’t excuse it.

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  • Mireya
    September 25
    1:37 pm

    I’d report it. Credit cards, ID, I mean, I always tell my husband that I can forget my head at home… but not my wallet.

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  • Anon76
    September 25
    1:49 pm

    I’d def offer one more time the option of either turning the wallet in or watching me turn it in for her. Maybe she’s afraid her guilt will show if she does it herself.

    If she doesn’t accept, then I’d have to tell someone with the convention. Whose to say that her situation is any worse than the person who lost the wallet. And really, the loss of ID and credit cards might cause the owner to be stranded in that town. I couldn’t live with that.

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  • SamG
    September 25
    2:25 pm

    Oh, I would have to tell. Sorry, stealing is wrong. I understand that people have tough times, but that isn’t how to fix it.

    My story to back this up is very old, but I found out my 6 or 7 year old neighbor stole a piece of candy from the local store. I lectured him (I think I was eight, sorry I typed the number 8 and the parenthesis and got a smiley face 8) ) until he threw it down. Later, I told my mom and she and I walked to the store together, told what he’d done and paid for the candy. Of course, I couldn’t replace a whole wallet, but I could try to make sure the victim know got it back.

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  • I’d report it. If she’s stealing, how do I know the story is even true? (Even if it is, it doesn’t give her a right to steal.)

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  • You have to say something, either to her or if that fails, the organizers. The owner of the wallet may not have such a wonderful year either. And like Nonny said if she’s a thief she could just as easily be a big-ass liar, too.

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  • md
    September 25
    6:41 pm

    I don’t care if she’s destitute and the wallet owner is Bill Gates. It’s his money, not hers. It may not eat at her conscience enough to make her turn the wallet in, but it would eat forever at mine if I didn’t turn her in.

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  • Myra Willingham
    September 25
    8:01 pm

    Here’s a little story concerning returning wallets.

    About twenty years ago, my youngest sister found a wallet at the park. She took the money out (about fifty bucks) and was going to ditch the wallet (she’s not the brightest or most honorable bulb in our Mormon family) but something changed her mind. She stuffed the wallet into her purse than blithely went to K-Mart to spend her ‘stash’. Dumb bunny bought something Mom knew she couldn’t afford or had money for and confronted Sis who admitted to finding the wallet.

    Mom called the police station to report that her daughter had found this man’s wallet after she couldn’t find a phone number for him from the name on the driver’s license. Turns out the man had reported the missing wallet but he didn’t care about the money. The only picture he had of his wife was in the wallet. She had died the year before in a house fire that had taken everything he owned. The picture meant more to him than the cash and he even offered a reward to my sister when she came to the police station to return the wallet.

    Mom, of course, wouldn’t let her accept the reward and had replaced the man’s money although she had to scrape to do it. Things were tight for us because we’d lost Dad five years earlier to an auto accident and were living pretty much hand to mouth but she was the most honest person I’ve ever known. She would have hocked her precious wedding ring if she’d had to in order to replace the money Sis stole.

    BTW: that guy is now my step dad. They got married four years later. And yes, that worn photo of his first wife is still in his wallet…as is my Dad’s in Mom’s wallet.

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  • Chantal
    September 25
    8:34 pm

    I would report her.

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  • Myra, that is a wonderful story.

    And I’d tell on her. You have no idea what I’m talking about? Right.

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  • Myra Willingham
    September 26
    12:12 am

    No, I’d tell her I saw what she’d done and give her the chance to own up. If she doesn’t, I’d tell her that I would be reporting her to the convention people. Chances are they wouldn’t do anything about it but I would have done what I felt was right.

    Besides, if she was that financially strapped and she’s attending a convention, her priorities are in the wrong place.

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  • willaful
    September 26
    12:32 am

    That story reminds me of the time our car was broken into. Nothing of actual monetary value was taken, just a case that held a very precious memento of my husband’s. Sadly, it was not recovered. It has often seemed very ironic to me that something that was such a big deal for us (the cost of replacing the broken window, loss of the memento, the general feeling of violation) did the thief no good whatsoever.

    The loss of a wallet is a *huge* deal for anyone. Massive amounts of trouble, even aside from money lost. No way on earth I would let someone get away with that.

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  • Oh Myra, I love that story. It’s all about synchronicity. And the thief? I would dob her in without blinking. There is no excuse for theft.

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  • I’d have to quietly report her.

    How does she know her situation is worse than the other person’s whom she stole from?

    How do we know she was telling truth? Maybe she’s a scam artist.

    Are we going to change the law and say it’s now okay to steal?

    It’s not like she was stealing food.

    I know a lot of people who can’t afford to go to conferences and so have to stay home. It’s preferable to stealing and hurting someone else and demeaning ourselves.

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  • I’d find the attendee whose wallet is missing, tell her my suspicions, and recommend she call the police.

    That’s not something for the conference organizers to get involved in. Lost and Found is one thing, theft is something else entirely.

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  • eggs
    September 26
    7:55 am

    What are the convention employees going to do if I tell them that I saw a woman pick a wallet up off the floor and put it in her bag? She’s only going to tell them what she already told me – that she has no idea what I’m talking about. And she might be telling them – and me – the truth. Maybe she’s laughing nervously because she thinks I’m a psycho nutjob for accusing her. Just because I know someone is poor, it doesn’t automatically make them the thief when something goes missing.

    It’s entirely possible she’s a butterfingers and dropped her own wallet, automatically scooping it up without even thinking about it. Or that she dropped her little notebook and, from a distance, it looked like a wallet to me. But it wasn’t one. Or maybe she really did find someone else’s wallet. The fact is, I don’t know, and I have zero evidence of anything. Plus, I’ve already asked her about it and she’s denied everything. The police wouldn’t even bother putting down their donuts for that kind of raggedy-arsed tale.

    Normally in these circumstances, I wouldn’t be so hamfisted with my accusations, but would sidle up to her and strike up a conversation where I mentioned that I hoped whoever took the wallet would leave it where it could be easily found and handed in because it often wasn’t the money that people were interested in recovering, blah, blah, blah.

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  • And really, the loss of ID and credit cards might cause the owner to be stranded in that town.

    Or in a foreign country on the other side of the ocean. Oh joy! That would probably translate into spending the rest of the conference at the consulate or at some police station trying to get a replacement for the ID. And we haven’t begun talking about what the loss of a credit card would mean to somebody staying in a foreign country.

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  • I witnessed something similar happen in high school. Another girl had lost her coin purse in the hall before a class, and one of my friends (Frances) told me she believed she had seen a cheerleader (I’ll call her Donna) pick up a purse out in the hall. Frances couldn’t be sure who the purse belonged to and when we confronted Donna she said we were lying losers and to go away. So Frances went to the teacher and told her. On opening class the teacher explained that someone had lost her coin purse and that she believed someone may have picked it up. She asked the boys to empty their pockets and for all the girls to dump the contents of our bags on our desks and check. Of course Donna had two coin purses in her bag, which she giggled about and said she’d picked up the other girl’s by mistake. The teacher pointed out how the two coin purses didn’t look particularly alike. But she also commented it was the decent thing for Donna to return it to the rightful owner. My friends and I didn’t trust Donna after that, and were not surprised when shortly after graduation she was convicted of shop lifting. I guess my point is the teacher probably made the right call as there was no proof at the time Donna had knowingly taken the other girl’s purse and to accuse her of theft might have brought a lawsuit from her parents (they were well-to-do bigwigs in town and regular contributors to the ball teams). But because of what the teacher did the other girl got her purse back, and that was what mattered at the time.

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