ZANG TUMMM TUMB ARTICLES “the first draft of history”

Were nicked

Winona Ryder is in court accused of trying to steal £3,600 of clothes from an LA store. Guilty or not, she wouldnt be the first celebrity to have tried her hand at shoplifting…

Jenny Eclair, comedian

I was caught shoplifting in the Co-op in Southport when I was 14. I stole a Cadburys Furry Friends chocolate bar. Me and my friend had been given lunch money which we had spent on make-up and tights so we had to steal something to eat. I am very short sighted, which is not a good characteristic for a thief, so I didnt realise I was being watched.

I was taken to the stock room by a store detective, where they left me when they went to call the police. I remember thinking that a stockroom was a very stupid place to leave a thief. When the police came and threatened to tell my mum, I put on an Oscar-winning performance — lying on the floor screaming and threatening to cut my own hands off. They felt that I had punished myself enough and let me go.

Ronnie OSullivan, snooker star

I nicked a $1.99 fan from a shop in Las Vegas. All my mates had been nicking stuff from Versace shops — grands-worth — and getting away with it. I was thinking, how are they dong this? Its doing my nut in. So I thought Ill have a go myself. So I went into a little shop, put a fan in my bag. I got caught, of course. I walked out and this geezer started following me. I had to give my bag to my mate Rog the robber and he just walked out of the shop and got away with it.

Fatboy Slim, DJ

Miscellaneous sweets is all Ill own up to in shops, but I office-lift. I compulsively steal things out of peoples offices. Every time I go to my managers office or the record company, I nick a CD or a book — things that, if Id asked, theyd probably have given me. But its more fun to nick it.

Piers Morgan, Mirror editor

While boarding at my prep school, Cumnor House in East Sussex, I was once put on bread and water for a week for being part of a biscuit-thieving ring. There were three of us, and we had worked a system via a friendly and often paralytic janitor whereby he turned a blind eye as we escaped from the dormitory at 3am, and helped ourselves to boxes of bourbons, digestives and — if we were very lucky — custard creams, from the large pantry cupboard. These were then sold on to grateful young boarders starved of their usual sweet intake at a substantial premium.

Unfortunately, the janitor eventually got busted for it, squealed on us immediately, and it was tickets for the Garibaldi Crew, as we had dubbed ourselves.

Katie Hillier, fashion designer

I used to steal Fruit Salads and Mojos. They only cost half a penny, but we did it quite a lot when we were children. It happened every time we went swimming, which was once a week. There was a few of us who did it, one of us used to do the Refreshers, someone else did Cherry Drops and I was on Mojo duty.

Alain de Botton, author

No, I didnt steal anything. Well, actually, yes I did. I remember that as a child I was a member of a gang who would go shoplifting. Not big items — just things like sherbet flying saucers. I was about eight. Im sure that what was going on was that I was trying to work out the nature of property. All children are natural communists. Its quite hard to realise that things are somebody elses. Children dont really understand why someone needs so much. If you see a big bowl of sweets, you cant really see why they would miss one. Why wont that person give me a sweet? Its a testing of the boundaries.

I wonder if Winona Ryders case is about testing boundaries. Maybe she feels her success isnt quite deserved. And in a way it isnt. Her rise to fame makes everything seem unreal. Is this a way of finding out how far she can go.

Sara Cox, Radio 1 DJ

I once stole a pen from the gift shop at Jodrell Bank. It must have been a school trip — I must have been eight or nine. It was just to see if I could, really. I felt really bad afterwards. Me and my best friend did once nick a pair of desert boots from a shop in South Korea. I suppose I was about 20 at the time. The guy who owned the shop had fallen asleep and my friend Claire dared me to do it. We took loads of time and tried on loads of pairs. I could probably have got my hands chopped off or something. But really, Ive not knicked anything major — Im really good, me.

Holly Johnson, musician

As a struggling artist in the early 80s, I was known to steal the odd pot of jam, loaf of bread and pint of milk — to my great shame now. I felt morally justified at the time because I was starving. When youre hungry youll do almost anything to alleviate it. I used to wear a large coat with large internal pockets which came in very handy. It wasnt purchased with the occasion in mind. I quite fancied robbing a bank. Perhaps I could say, sorry I was just rehearsing for a role. It could have been my breakthough in movies.

Clive Dunn, actor

It was the end of the war and we were liberated PoWs. Marching to the south of the Tyrol, we were living on stinging nettles and were weak and exhausted. We stole a wooden cart from a village and took it through the mountains. We kept our kit bag in it. It made life much easier for us. The day we reached our destination, the next camp, it fell to pieces.