A kleptomaniac has a mental disorder that compels the person to steal. Unlike a shoplifter, who will steal an item he or she wants or needs, a kleptomaniac steals for the thrill of stealing, often taking items that have little or no value. However, there are a few cases where diagnosed kleptomaniacs have stolen even expensive items.
If you notice that every time your friend `A ` comes visiting you in your office, some of the pens & other stationary items disappear from your table, it may be that your friend is a kleptomaniac. There are many in our society, even well- to-do who are afflicted with this mental disorder.
I had a lady boss, a mini celebrity in her time, who could be called a Kleptomaniac. She had the habit of picking up things that attract her in the hotels that she was staying during her travels.
I am not referring to the `toilet kits` or the `dental kits` or the `shampoo sets` which almost all of us take away from the hotel rooms when we are checking out.. These branded items are supposed to be a part of the Hotel`s brand building exercise. The hotels do not mind your taking them away because the cost of such items are built into the room rate they quote to you. Rest assured that you will not come under the classification of a `kleptomaniac`. I have a huge collection of these from hotels from around the world
Hotels, however, don`t expect you to take away the paintings on display in the rooms or the expensive bath or hand towels, drinking glasses or the cutleries used in room service. If you do this you will certainly come under the classification as a Kleptomaniac.
My lady boss once went beyond this. I remember her picking up a beautiful flower vase displayed on a side table in the lobby of the hotel where she was staying. When she realized that the receptionist had noticed it, she coolly went up to him and said ` I like this lovely piece. Do you mind if I take it.` Without waiting for his reply she quickly made an exit. Poor receptionist was speechless. And the security guard watched nonplussed because she was a well known guest of the hotel.
When faced with this major problem a hotel management decided to have a display card on the side table in every room in their hotel with the following message; ` You are welcome to help yourself with any items you fancy in this room. Please remember the cost of such items will be added to your room bill when you are checking out`. I am told that the incidence of expensive items missing from the rooms came down drastically at this hotel.
I think the signs of a potential Kleptomaniac can be seen among some children who nonchalantly steal items from neighbor`s or friend`s homes. Some of them steal things even from their class rooms in schools. Many of them boast about it to their friends later. Parents of such children would do well to control their kids early in life so that this dreadful habit is nipped in the bud.
(This article appeared in Adyar Times Issue dated 17-23rd December,2017 under my column `Rajan`s Random Reflections`)