WWYD: Watching Someone You Know Steal

In this installment of “What Would You Do?,” a woman finds herself at the scene of a crime.

I was with my now ex-boyfriend in Argentina, visiting his grandmother in the ugliest city I’ve ever been to. We stopped at a bank to use the ATM and there was a guy in front of us. When it was our turn, we realized the guy in front of us left his card in the machine and it was asking, “Do you want another transaction?” Before I could do anything, my boyfriend hit “yes” and took out $300 Argentine pesos, at the time around $100 USD, and put the card in his pocket.

I argued that this was wrong and I wouldn’t use that money, and freaked out that this guy might come back for his card and beat/kill us. I immediately took out money from my own card, and left. We fought for hours over this, breaking up and getting back together. I was six hours from home in a city I had never been to, and this scared the hell out of me. I had no idea where the bus station was. We were in Argentina for two more days, and then his parents were driving us back to Chile, where we lived. How do you turn in your boyfriend/ride home when you don’t even know how to call the police? Do you turn in a loved one who does this?

We did break up for real a week later, and I was worried that every time my passport got checked at a border, they would somehow know that I took out money from that ATM, and was with the guy who stole somebody else’s money. — A.

WHAT. That was my reaction when I received this WWYD in my inbox. I mean, this is pretty cut and dry, right? If I were this woman, I would also want to break up with this dude—a thief! And not even the Robin Hood-kind with possibly good intentions for his thievery. I would have loved to hear what his defense for stealing that money was, because, boy, no matter what you say, you’re a thief.

Is stealing money from an ATM a dealbreaker? Yes. Add that to the list of dealbreakers. I probably wouldn’t have turned him into the police, but I would have certainly told his parents about his stealing. It’s tough being in a foreign city on your own, but I would have also asked around for directions to the bus station and found my own way home, because I wouldn’t want to spend the rest of my trip arguing with this guy. What would you do?


Email me your WWYD experiences to me with “WWYD” in the subject line. See previous installments.



19 Comments / Post A Comment

hershmire (#695)

Know that when you see someone steal something so casually that it’s not his first time and won’t be his last.

EM (#1,012)

Ugh this is awful, plus the added stress of being away from home and so not being able to throw a drink in his face and be all, “Good day sir!” I feel like after you know someone would do that you couldn’t look at them the same way again. One time a boyfriend told me non-nonchalantly that he took money from his parents for tuition and used it to take a surf trip instead, telling them he was in school until he ran out of money and needed them to buy him a plane ticket home. I was really disgusted by that and that was definitely a catalyst for our breakup/my total loss of respect for him.

kellyography (#250)

Holy cow, that is disgusting. Were there no previous indicators that this guy was a total thief and liar? Stealing someone’s money and debit card would literally never cross my mind, but then, I’m the person that does copious Internet research to find the owner of a missing wallet, so, yeah. Gross.

cmcm (#267)

@kellyography That was my first thought— it would never even OCCUR to me in this situation that I could say ‘yes’ and take out money from someone else’s card. It sounds like she did the only thing possible given the circumstances. Ugh, how horrible.

wearitcounts (#772)

i don’t know if i would have told his parents, but yeah, i would have gotten out of there as quickly as possible and then broken up with him. or broken up with him and then gotten out of there. or both at the same time, probably.

aeroaeroaero (#1,422)

So obviously this is terrible, and the dude shouldn’t have done it, but our dear friend at the Awl, Dave Bry, has done something similar and I still <3 him. So...not a total dealbreaker? Or maybe Dave Bry is the exception to the rule?


nonvolleyball (#305)

@aeroaeroaero as stupid as it sounds, I feel like the amount matters. $40 is juuuust on the side of “an amount a lot of people would be able to deal with losing” (although some people couldn’t, for sure). $100–more than twice that, let’s note–just seems greedy in addition to amoral.

josefinastrummer (#1,850)

@nonvolleyball Nope. Stealing from someone’s ATM card is stealing. I don’t care if it was $10 or $100. You have no idea what the person’s situation is, because it’s not your card. Would you use this card in a store for only $40? No way!

Why should Dave Bry be the exception and this guy not? It’s just wrong and shows how people do make exceptions when people they know do this.

sunflowernut (#1,638)

Yeah this is straight up awful. For some reason it reminds me of something one of my ex-friends did a while ago. A package was delivered to his apartment by accident, instead of the kid who lived downstairs. Not only did he open the package, but he went through everything and kept it, even though nothing fit him. It was supposed to be a Christmas present from the kid’s mom! My friend was totally unremorseful about his actions, justifying them by saying that it was a crappy gift anyway and he’d saved the kid from having to deal with it. Ummm, fuck no. People who take things that belong to others and don’t sweat it are psychopaths. So I guess I don’t really blame this girl for sticking with her bf for a little extra time so she could get home safely.

RocketSurgeon (#747)

This makes me glad that my bank asks for my pin number again before letting me take out cash after I’ve done something else, like a deposit.

Markham (#1,862)

Deal breaker, especially since ATM Machines have cameras in them…..

…so you’re not only a thief, you’re a stupid thief that was filmed in the act.

Megano! (#124)


thatgirl (#1,965)


But I would definitely stay with the guy until I could get back home, because I have stayed in more fucked up situations for longer than that in the interest of not rocking the boat before I could make a clean getaway.

TARDIStime (#1,633)

Yeah, I’d stick with the guy and fly back purely because I’d have to re-arrange air tickets and the whole shebang would probably cost way more than the stolen $100.
But the second we hit the tarmac in our home city, that city = Breakup City.

megsy (#1,565)

Dealbreaker for sure. How awful.

Weasley (#1,419)

This reminds me of how my friends used to casually steal fancy cheese from the grocery store. I think this is a common phenomenon found with young and mostly privileged college students. My friends felt a little bit guilty about their privilege so they thought they were sticking it to the man. But it was dumb. And it was stealing. And I made it clear that I was not oaky with it.

Kzinti (#1,805)

@Weasley It amazes me how so many people think it is ok to take things (or money) that belong to someone else. Thank you for having the integrity to stand up to your friends about it. I’m a CPA and am constantly amazed by how many people I meet who are proud to tell me how they get / give money under the table or otherwise cheat on their taxes. I tell them that is illegal and they should just pay what they owe, which is what my husband and I do.

The whole “sticking it to the man” thing is bullshit. Who do you think that man is? My dad owns a fast food business (one location that is his own, not a franchise) and he is struggling to pay his bills. If someone shoplifts bags of chips that are displayed outside the counter area, what man is being stuck?

cmcm (#267)

Also, this is why I am so glad that your card comes out before your cash in the UK. It is SO easy to leave your card behind.

sparrow303 (#1,641)

Dealbreaker for sure! I’m from Chicago, where people fall all over themselves to stop you if you drop a glove on the El. I can’t imagine doing this– or dating someone who would.

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