We have certain categories of thieves, stereotypes if you will, that we like to put people in: Wall Street fraudster, poor/drug addict/street trash, and grifter.  We think of these people as “out there” in the world.  Other people have to deal with them, we don’t.  They are wonderful for crime procedurals, movies, and the occasional infotainment segment.  You know, Frontline does a documentary on Bernie Madoff and what not.  It adds a little spice to our dull lives which don’t have such drama in them. I mean, we’re ordinary and those are the extraordinary, not normal, out there on the fringes people, right?

Well, just as an example, grifters come in all shapes and sizes.  They are actually just as normal as you and me.  In fact, you probably know one or have one in the family.  They usually have what seems like good self-esteem.  They are well liked, invited to everything, and seem to have the best luck.  They get everything they want and if things were on the up and up we would all want to know their secret.  But we kinda already do because we don’t actually like to be too close to them.  They have a way of not only taking their fair share of things, but ending up with part of yours and part of this other guys until they have 90% of everything and nobody quite knows how that happened.  It’s like when all the kids sit down to do crafts.  There is always one kid that ends up with all the glue bottles.  Everyone has their own, but he quietly borrows his neighbor’s while they are distracted, then asks to borrow from the kid across the table and on and on until no one has glue and when the teacher starts looking around there is all the glue bottles with this one kid.  He seems to honestly not know what happened and he’s so cute and genuine and really apologetic that no-one can fault him and there’s no blame. Life goes on.

But he does this all the time.  He is at fault, he does know what he’s doing and he can give you 100 excuses why it’s completely necessary.  That’s why he’s so likable.  That’s why he’s so charming and into everything.  He’s setting things up so he has a plausible way out.  If he can’t do it by charm then he will have someone to blame.  You see this most clearly in relationships.  They don’t necessarily want money.  They aren’t there to steal, not the way we think of it.  They are out to get their needs met and their needs mean that they will spin things to set you up so you give them what they want without their having to give you anything.  Yes, they give their time and their attention. Just enough to get what they want and in a way that it doesn’t really put them out at all.  They make it seem like they deeply connect with you, but it’s you doing all that work.  They spin things so it seems like they are agreeing to things, but they aren’t. They say things the way you want to hear them without committing to anything.  And once they have what they want they are gone.

There are all kinds of thieves out there.  Big ones that take everything and leave destruction in their wake, little ones who steal the garden gnome from your yard (It was lonely and wanted to visit the flamingoes down the street) and the in between which just want what they want and decide you’ll be the donor.  So pay attention to the actions and not the words, watch for the sleight of hand, and keep your glue bottle out of reach.  They don’t need it.  They have their own.