WTF Wednesday: Five-Finger Fresheners

What up what up! And welcome to the first post of a new series I like to call “WTF Wednesdays.” Now you might be thinking to yourself, “WTF are WTF Wednesdays?” If so, allow me to enlighten you.

WTF Wednesdays will be dedicated to the random, the wacky, or the straight up weird stuff that people do (or that’s done to them) – all in some way related to money of course.

Today’s tidbit was inspired by the unfortunate occurrence of our car failing to start in our driveway one morning. And in case you were wondering – yup, the whole fam was packed up in the car at the time, babies and car seats and snacks and toys and all. Luckily we managed a fairly smooth transfer of all that into my pimpmobile 93 caddy and were able to be on our way, but it was my experience in the auto parts store later that day that really got my “WTF” juices going.

The super nice sales guy, Steve, was helping me pick out a shiny new battery for our bum car when I happened to notice an empty packet of air fresheners on the counter. When I asked him what they were doing there, Steve said that someone had actually stolen the air fresheners out of the package.

Stolen air fresheners?? I mean, really, WTF?! Out of all the things to steal out of an auto store, the 3 dollar air fresheners are what you decide to lift? Who knows, maybe someone was recreating the classic elevator scene from “Tommy Boy” and air fresheners weren’t in the budget. Whatever the case, it got me wondering about what other random things people steal out of stores.

I put the question to my wife, who told me she saw recently in CVS that someone had stolen two hair barrettes out of a package of 10 or so. Must’ve been a hair emergency! Or maybe someone needed to pick a lock and those barrettes were the perfect size for the job? A theft to pull off a bigger theft!

My friend Dave relayed to me a time when he went to grab some applesauce from the grocery store and noticed one of the individual cups was missing. One cup of applesauce. I can only imagine some hungry assembly line worker slurping down some applesauce in the middle of her shift – because who else would do that?!

My best guess is that the thrill of the 5-finger discount must be what motivates a lot of these super low-scale thieves – but that they’re too chicken (or just plain bad at stealing) to go for bigger things. But, man, all I know is that I’d be CRAZY embarrassed to get busted not just for shoplifting, but for shoplifting something that costs roughly the same amount as lost change on the street.

How about you guys? Any juicy WTF stories about stolen goods that you’ve encountered??

PS: This post was written by my wife pretending to be me :) Did she fool you? She thought perhaps being too grammatically correct may have given it away, haha… All true stories up there though, and we’re for real gonna do some WTF Wednesdays on here too. A lot of people do a lot of stupid stuff (myself included) and this’ll be our place to have some fun with it.

PPS: People who steal are lame.

UPDATE: My wife just got back from grocery shopping and realized she inadvertently stole two baby jars hiding in the cart! How’s that for timing? :) She assures me she went back and paid for them… Uh-huh…

[Bee-otch freshener by jquiz]

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  1. Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank October 29, 2014 at 5:19 AM

    I love you cool idea of “WTF Wednesday”! Honestly? Air freshener? C’mon, that must be just a trip of someone. I find it so weird…

  2. Mrs. Frugalwoods October 29, 2014 at 6:41 AM

    Hello Mrs. BudgetsAreSexy! I was wondering why this post was written so well… ;). Why would someone go to the trouble of opening the air freshener packet to remove them in order to steal them? Could’ve just taken the whole package! Bizarre. I’ve never stolen anything and I’ve never seen anyone steal anything, so I guess I live a sheltered & mundane life. Frugal Hound did once steal one of our kitchen towels off the towel rack. We let her keep it because she’d gotten hound-spit all over it.

    1. J. Money October 29, 2014 at 1:14 PM

      Hah! I didn’t even think of that… maybe the package is crinkly and would make too much noise sneaking it out?

      1. lucia Rust June 12, 2018 at 7:48 PM

        Hi i was just wondering where the heck I could get one of those air fresheners because I’m going to buy a car that looks similar to the original bumblebee. But that’s a good blog by the way. I have searched where for one. So it would be great to hear from you.

        1. J. Money June 13, 2018 at 1:34 PM

          If you google “bee-otch air freshener” you’ll find lots of places to buy it – including Ebay :)

  3. S L October 29, 2014 at 7:05 AM

    It most likely would have been kids on a dare. That is the size / type of things done. Though more often, and of course unseen, are candy bars because “sweet reward?” Opening the package could be “what scent is this? cool! *snag*” and out of the package does more likely a cover story make: “I wanted to get one just like this so brought it in” or something.

    Yes, I have a swindler’s heart, and luckily I turned that supervillian power to good, as in catching my kids before they did something stupid. It also has kept my away from Nigerian princes *grin*

  4. Mel @ brokeGIRLrich October 29, 2014 at 8:10 AM

    When I worked for the circus we would have lots of free stuff out in on the floor during preshow and I always thought it was funny when kids would try to “sneak” extra. Kid – they’re free, Take 20 for all I care. But they would always think they were being so sneaky. If it was a slightly older kid and I saw them, sometimes I would walk over and hand them like 5 extra tattoos or noses or whatever they were trying to pilfer. They always looked horrified and it made me laugh so hard.

    1. J. Money October 29, 2014 at 1:16 PM

      Reminds me of my kid during a trick-or-treat session this weekend. Whenever he heard “just take one” he’d look over to me in a sheepish grin while he tried to finagle two ;)

    2. Ree Klein October 30, 2014 at 10:12 PM

      Wait…let me get this straight…you worked for the circus?!?!?! You said that part with such a straight face….like “When I worked for Starbucks…” or something. The whole story is great but I love the circus lead in!!!

      As for WTF thieves, I hate it when you buy something at Home Depot, like a new door knob, only to find that some jerk stole a single screw out of the box. Grrrrrr!

      Love the new series, J :)

  5. Will @ First Quarter Finance October 29, 2014 at 8:18 AM

    In college, people would always steal flatware and glasses from the cafeteria. Several times a year, the cafeteria would beg for their stuff back. It was nuts! C’mon, people!

    1. Karen October 29, 2014 at 9:10 AM

      My college gave out cookies at the end of the school year to collect trays the students took for sledding in the winter. And of course the poster asked for plates, glasses, flatware as well.

      1. J. Money October 29, 2014 at 1:16 PM

        Now THAT is a brilliant idea. Both the cookies and the sledding tray ;)

  6. Brian @ Debt Discipline October 29, 2014 at 8:44 AM

    Didn’t think the Mrs. would use terms like “Pimpmobile” so you had me fooled. I did see a guys get a arrested recently at a Costco for trying to steal a block of cheese. Of all the things to try and lift at a Costco I would have never guessed cheese.

    1. J. Money October 29, 2014 at 1:18 PM

      Haha… What a cheesy thing to steal (see what I did there?)

  7. Jen @ Jen Spends October 29, 2014 at 9:03 AM

    At the Walmart near me, people will get popcorn chicken from the deli, eat some of it, then put the container (with some chicken still in) on some random shelf. Always nice to be surprised by a half-eaten container of chicken when you’re reaching for dish soap or diapers or whatever.

  8. Julie G October 29, 2014 at 9:09 AM

    When my husband and I moved 1000 miles away we didn’t even have a plate or a bowl to eat food from. We went to the obvious place to obtain these things… Wal-Mart. While there, I watched someone steal Ramen Noodles… Ramen Noodles o.O . Needless to say I have not gone back to that area because if the idea of a good “steal” is Ramen Noodles that is not the area for me.

  9. Rachel October 29, 2014 at 9:10 AM

    Love Mrs. BAS…all about the BAS! Does college cafe “borrowing” count? I am fairly certain my pricey undergrad must have included forks and cafeteria trays for sledding. Thursday Things That Make You Go Hmmm…what happens to the remainder of the broken packs of clips/applesauce/diapers?

    1. J. Money October 29, 2014 at 1:20 PM

      Maybe they go into the “bargain bins?” Reminds me of that Big Daddy movie w/ Adam Sandler when they go around throwing cans on the ground in the grocery stores to get a discount for them being smashed up :)

  10. Shannon @ Financially Blonde October 29, 2014 at 9:11 AM

    I was literally just in Starbucks meeting with a client at 6:30am and this guy walked out with 2 juices. I wouldn’t have known that he did except the Starbucks employee yelled “Sir, do you want to give me my juices back?” He proceeded to walk out the door and she followed him. She was gone for about 3 minutes and I feared for her and thought, if I was her manager, I would have told her that there was no way those juices were worth her life. I gave her credit, though, she walked back in with the juices in tow.

    1. J. Money October 29, 2014 at 1:21 PM

      Woah. I’m pretty sure that’s against corporate policy to chase a criminal like that. When I worked at Old Navy we couldn’t go past the doors during times like these out of safety and legal stuff. So most times they got away, ugh…

  11. Tonya@Budget and the Beach October 29, 2014 at 9:12 AM

    Huh wow that is really random! :) With the applesauce though I can see one somehow slipping out during shipping or something. I think that happens a lot. I took one packet of saltine crackers from the salad bar when I was grocery shopping the other day. Does that count? I hope not! :)

    1. J. Money October 29, 2014 at 1:22 PM

      Do it in front of the security guard/cashier and then let us know :)

  12. Crystal October 29, 2014 at 11:41 AM

    Welcome to Mrs. BudgetsAreSexy!

    I also stole a pack of $4 Old Maid playing cards when I was about 5 years old, but I honestly was leaving the store to find my mom and make her pay for them since she said no. The store clerk asked me to stay with the other store clerk while she caught up with my mom and explained what I did. I ended up with a quick spanking, no sweets for the rest of the week, and a very embarrassed mom who of course handed the cards back, apologized profusely, and made me apologize. I got a 2 hour lecture about stealing and about not harassing her to spend money that we didn’t have. Then she apparently went back and bought them since I did get them for Christmas months later. I was so surprised at Christmas and I apologized to mom again for embarrassing her. I was just turning 6 and I still remember how awful I felt…

    In a not so sweet story, when I was a pre-teen (I was just around 12), I stole a $2-$3 pair of costume jewelry earrings (I bought stuff from that store too, I was just apparently being amazingly rebellious and stupid). But the really bad thing is that I then used them as a gift to my mom since she said that she liked them when she saw them on the car ride home. She still wears them once in a while. :-( When I’m really mad at her, that makes me laugh. But generally, I still wish I had just bought the stupid things…

    The other stuff that I’ve noticed stolen has been one of a 2 pack of C batteries at Walmart when I was 16 and some Oreos out of an Oreo package (ewww!) like 2 weeks ago. Side note, I bought the C pack of batteries as a karma IOU for those stupid earrings, LOL. Apparently, it was bugging me.

    I also saw a guy stick a large package of candy into his shirt and quick walk out of Walmart (security had noticed too), and I saw a kid sneak a piece of candy into the toilet paper package that his mom was buying (he was making a little hole and sneaking the tube of Life Savers into one of the rolls of the toilet paper). I just bent over, told him that I saw that, and suggested he sneak it back to where it belongs. He turned beet red and put the candy back.

    Yep, people will steal anything. Most of the time, I assume it’s someone broke or young and stupid like I was.

    1. J. Money October 29, 2014 at 1:27 PM

      OMG that’s a clever idea with the toilet rolls! Haha… And even more hilarious/messed up about the earrings for your mom ;) I hope she doesn’t read this blog!!

      I went through my phase of stealing as a little kid too. I remember a friend getting caught bringing toys to class one day in elementary school (micro-machines, remember them?) and I saw the teacher take the bag of them and hide it for a while… Then at recess or some time I went in and took them and brought them home. For the rest of the school year I was petrified of getting caught and it got so bad that I even got scared when the phone rang during our Summer vacation in ITALY!!! Every time my grandmother or mom would pick up the phone I was worried it was my teacher calling to tell them of what I’d done, haha… And needless to say I’ve never stolen a thing ever since :)

    2. Povl October 30, 2014 at 6:04 AM

      I’m so sorry you grew up with a violent mother :-( Hitting a 5 year old! WTF is wrong with some people?
      Also, I imagine she gave you the cards to ruin your Christimas. Either that or she has no empathy and thought that being reminded of the unpleasant episode would have made you happy.

      Again, I’m really sorry for what you experienced as a child :-(

      1. Jules October 30, 2014 at 1:04 PM

        Oh for God’s sake it was a “quick spanking” — a lot of us have received those as children. Spankings do not equate to child abuse!

  13. Emily @ Simple Cheap Mom October 29, 2014 at 12:09 PM

    We had a car won’t start moment last week, but we needed an new alternator, not a new battery. Urg.

    WTF moment for me reading this: I just assumed air fresheners were freebies given out by companies. People actually pay for those?

    1. J. Money October 29, 2014 at 1:28 PM

      Hah, really? I want to go to those stores that give them out! :)

      Sucks about your car, I’m sorry :( We thought it was either our battery or alternator too, but fortunately was just the battery… I wonder if this is one of those Even Steven things where one person wins and another loses at the same time across the world? :)

  14. weenie October 29, 2014 at 1:12 PM

    I often see people eating food as they are shopping in the supermarket, ie food they have taken off the shelves and they’ve opened the packets…before paying for them!

    Some of these people will be honest and have the empty wrappers scanned at the checkout but others will not and will just steal if they can get away with it.

    I reported on a couple once, who were eating pastries from the instore bakery and put the empty box in their bag as they were walking around. I’m not sure if anything was done about them as I didn’t hang around in case they spotted who had grassed on them!

    1. J. Money October 29, 2014 at 1:29 PM

      Haha… good call :)

      I’ll actually eat from a box or a snack too if I’m absolutely starving (and usually on my way towards the check out line) but either way I ALWAYS pay for it. My wife does give me a hard time whenever I do it though.

    2. Amanda L Grossman October 30, 2014 at 11:28 AM

      I was at a Whole Foods once, watched a woman fill a soup bowl (the takeout kind) with a soup, drink it up, then put the bowl back on the counter.


  15. Cat@BudgetBlonde October 29, 2014 at 1:37 PM

    I was in Target yesterday and overheard someone bragging about how they were going to declare bankruptcy so they wouldn’t have to pay their bills. I just keeeppppptttt on walking!

    1. J. Money October 29, 2014 at 9:46 PM

      The. Worst.

      If there’s one group of people I do no get along with it’s those who a) game the system like that, and then b) laugh about it. And then there’s c) those who repeat it again multiple times, ugh… some people…

      1. Jacquie November 1, 2014 at 1:42 AM

        Right around the time I started being open and honest about my debt, I brought it up with a friend saying I was working to pay it down, and he said “What’s the problem? Just declare bankruptcy! That’s what I do!”. We didn’t become better friends after that comment.

        1. J. Money November 3, 2014 at 2:28 PM

          *shakes head*

  16. Deetsy October 29, 2014 at 1:54 PM

    When I was about 5 or 6, I stole a caramel candy from the Brach’s candy bin. (the bulk display thing) I thought they were free samples though so I wasn’t intentionally stealing. When my Mom saw me eating it, she was so disappointed in me. I had to go tell the store manager what I had done, and pay for the candy out of my allowance. It was quite a humiliating experience though, and it kept me from ever wanting to steal anything again. Now I go out of my way to ensure that I’m being honest…
    A few months ago, I got home and found out that there was an item in my bag that I hadn’t paid for. I drove back to the store, and paid for it. I figured they’d be surprised by my actions. Instead, they told me that it happens all the time. It was reassuring to know that there are still so many honest people around! There’s still hope for our society after all!

    1. J. Money October 29, 2014 at 9:55 PM

      Hah! This literally JUST happened to my wife tonight! On the same day she wrote this article – what timing ;) She assures me she went back and paid for it too, haha… It’s good we got some honest folks still around!

  17. Jacquie October 29, 2014 at 2:15 PM

    There was a pizza place I used to frequent that sold really delicious cheap slices. Later when I got a job at the grocery store across the street, the manager would constantly run after the guys who were stealing the cheese. By putting it down their pants. Then running back to the pizza place and making the “delicious” slices.

    And no, I did not keep eating at that pizza place :)

    1. J. Money October 29, 2014 at 9:55 PM


  18. Jennifer October 29, 2014 at 4:47 PM

    I’ve seen people stealing from garage sales. One guy took a $1.00 cd out of the case and stuck it in his pocket. Very pathetic.

    1. J. Money October 29, 2014 at 9:56 PM

      Oh come on. What is wrong with people?!

  19. Motorcop October 29, 2014 at 4:51 PM

    Are you kidding? I got years and years of stories about this stuff.
    They restock the lake with Stupid every night. Keeps guys like me in business.
    Related stupidity: I once stopped a car for running a stop sign. Turns out they just went on a car burglary spree.

    They went to jail. ;-)

    1. J. Money October 29, 2014 at 9:58 PM

      I would imagine so, haha… If you ever want to write a guest post on all the crazy stuff you see (as long as it relates to money somehow?) would love to feature you here! I find you/your job super fascinating… as do many people I’d imagine. (Except for those on the opposite side of the law ;))

  20. Christine @ The Pursuit of Green October 29, 2014 at 5:49 PM

    Haha. The other day I was at Whole Foods with 5 packs of tissue. I told the cashier I had 5 packs and they rung me out. Checked the receipt though and they had only charged me for one! I went back and he passed me off to the cashier next to me to ring it up properly. Upon checking the receipt again I had again been charged for only one. I went back again and at this point they just told me to take it.

    I got three packs of free tissue honestly:P

    1. J. Money October 29, 2014 at 9:58 PM

      Haha… hey, you tried!

  21. Mario October 29, 2014 at 9:24 PM

    This has been my observation as well — a pair of socks missing from a pack of 10, a couple grapes gone from a bunch in the produce section. An mp3.

    I imagine that psychologically, people care about the price of the thing they’re stealing and feel less bad when it’s something cheaper. It would be interesting for an experiment to see if one particular product becomes more frequently stolen when it goes on sale…

    1. J. Money October 29, 2014 at 9:59 PM

      Yes! That would be interesting!

      Go and make it happen :)

  22. Jenna October 29, 2014 at 9:53 PM

    One of my good friends from middle school worked at a pharmacy all through out high school. Every night he collected empty boxes from the things people have stolen throughout the day. I never even knew it was that much of a problem!

  23. Brooke @ PFTwins October 30, 2014 at 12:29 AM

    The worst shoplifting I’ve seen is when a woman at Wal-Mart was opening several containers of Ziploc bags and stealing 1 or 2 from each size … She was doing it as calm as could be in an aisle full of customers. Completely ruins each container of bags! In a weird way, it does make sense. You can get away with it as long as a store employee doesn’t directly see you lifting the bags as there is no merchandise tag. You also get your weekly or monthly supply of bags (or air fresheners!) and then go back for more later.

    1. J. Money November 3, 2014 at 2:35 PM

      Incredible! I hope she gets caught one day and learns her lesson… She’s bound to if she spends so much time hopping from one container to the next, what an idiot.

  24. Barry @ Moneywehave October 30, 2014 at 1:33 AM

    Way too often at grocery stores or at Wal Mart I’ll see a box of food opened and the goods have clearly been tested. Like WTF? You can’t make yourself free samples and if you do like it are you going to buy that box?

  25. Pengepugeren October 30, 2014 at 5:37 AM

    Your wife is a pretty entertaining writer. If there’ll ever be a I’ll subscribe.

    1. J. Money November 3, 2014 at 2:38 PM

      I’ve been trying to get her to blog for years! Much more funnier than I am :) Will have to make sure she sees this message of yours.

  26. Tina October 30, 2014 at 9:10 AM

    I can’t believe I’m admitting this but I “allowed” my daughter to take a coin out of a community fountain recently. It was 5 Haitian Gourdes. I just HAD to find out how much it was worth. I collect coins and it’s a treasure to find foreign ones. It’s worth around 10 cents but I felt guilty enough to throw a quarter in the fountain when I was there last week.

    1. J November 2, 2014 at 9:27 PM

      Isn’t a community fountain where people are just throwing away money anyway?

    2. J. Money November 3, 2014 at 2:41 PM

      Hah! I don’t think I’d have the balls to do that even though I’d want to also :) Or if I did I’d go back and throw it in later after I researched it, haha.. (or just taken a pic of it and then thrown it back while there). Don’t you get bad luck when you take stuff out like that?

      Love that you’re a fellow coin collector :) Check out my coin blog if you haven’t yet!

  27. Chris @ Flipping A Dollar October 30, 2014 at 11:30 AM

    We bought 3 packs of chicken from Wegmans last week (the family pack, $1.99/lb, individually wrapped chicken breast i.e. AMAZING). The lady had all three on the conveyor belt and for some reason didn’t scan the 3rd. I didn’t feel guilty since we put it on the belt! And we didn’t realize it till we got to the car…although I did think the bill was lower than it should be.

  28. The Phroogal Jason October 30, 2014 at 12:04 PM

    I remember once I was grabbing a 10-pack of gum with one pack missing. I was like did someone actually open the package to take out one pack? WTF

    1. J. Money November 3, 2014 at 2:42 PM

      Looks like you come across this a lot if your tweet the other day is any indication, haha…

  29. Lance @ HWI October 30, 2014 at 5:46 PM

    My brother-in-law worked in security in a big box store and would have a story every single day. Whenever we see him we would ask “what did someone put down their pants today?” He said the most common thing was guys trying to steal perfume for their girlfriends. Classy!

    1. J. Money November 3, 2014 at 2:42 PM

      OMG haha… so random!

  30. How To Save Money October 30, 2014 at 9:26 PM

    Interesting. It’s really more of the thrill that makes people go for this stuff!

  31. Jamie October 31, 2014 at 10:45 PM

    I used to work at a supermarket. I was amazed when one day one of the middle-aged ladies who also worked there was caught with a pack of meat down her pants. Like a roast, or something. She had seemed like such a quiet, sweet, honest lady….

  32. J. Money November 3, 2014 at 2:42 PM

    HAH! I bet it was a *romp* roast! ;)

  33. steve manos November 12, 2014 at 12:56 PM

    Our local Lutheran thrift store has a sign on their shoe racks that says that people will actually come in and put on a pair of shoes, leave their old ones and take off. Pretty low to steal from a a non-profit that ‘s trying to help people.

    1. J. Money November 16, 2014 at 8:54 PM

      Daaaamn, no kidding!

  34. jes November 16, 2014 at 2:58 PM

    I was on my way to a pot-luck brunch and stopped at the store to buy a coffeecake. The box was sealed. When we opened it, there was one slice neatly cut off the end.

    1. J. Money November 16, 2014 at 8:55 PM

      oh come on, haha… messed up. hopefully the pot luck people didn’t think you got hungry on the way!

  35. Connie C. December 22, 2014 at 3:33 PM

    Many years ago we had a garage sale. We sold extra leashes we had for our dog in a two pack. Someone stole a pack. Seriously? If you couldn’t afford the 50 cents, lmk and I will GIVE them to you!

    1. J. Money December 23, 2014 at 12:19 PM

      Dayummm… people are cray.