*Names have been changed
Strewn about the Staples cafeteria is an overwhelming border made up of clothes and accessories. Everything from raggedy gym shirts to Vineyard Vines quarter zips can be found abandoned in this elephant’s graveyard of clothes known as the lost and found. For some, the lost and found is a savior, as it is a place for reuniting distressed owners with their favorite missing hats, coats, scarves and shoes. But for others, the lost and found is something different—something more sinister.
The former hopeful beacon for students has developed into a new entity for thieves. “It’s the free store,” serial thief Jamie* said. “It’s sort of like one of those stores where the clothes are dropped everywhere.”
However, there are penalties in place if students are caught stealing. “If we see someone taking a coat from the cafeteria that doesn’t belong to them, the first thing we try to do is make sure the coat goes back to the rightful owner,” Assistant Principal Patrick Micinilio said. “If it’s a first time offense, it’s a one day suspension. After that it gets more severe.”
While the punishments for thieves are clear, stealing does not seem to bother Mark*. “Honestly, if they wanted the clothes, they wouldn’t have left them behind,” he said with a subtle chuckle. “I don’t feel bad. These clothes have been here for a while[…]. I usually don’t take clothes if they have only been there for a day or two —only the clothes that are left for a while.”
Jonathan Maragos ’16 had a different perspective on people who target the lost and found. “I like to think that I can trust other kids not to take my clothes if I forget them,” Maragos said. “It’s just so stupid to think that you won’t get caught if you steal.”
According to Jamie, stealing from the lost and found was a gradual evolution. “I started taking clothes from the lost and found freshman year, usually just when I needed something and it was in front of me.” Since then he admits that he takes clothes without reason. “If you wanted me to add up how much I’ve taken, it’s probably upwards of a grand,” Jamie said.
In fact, when calculated, the amount taken by Jamie ends up being approximately $1,100 based on retail prices via Amazon. His collection includes a Northface rain jacket, which retailed at $120, a pair of Sperry topsiders and a Staples boys’ lacrosse pinny bearing the number of a varsity player. Jamie attests that he does not wear the pinny in school.
For students who don’t steal from the lost and found, the concept seems very foreign. “I don’t get how you can walk around school with someone’s sweatshirt. What if you see them? What do you say?” Katherine Coogan ’17 curiously questioned.
While the lost and found divides opinions between those who take and those who don’t, it is undeniable that an area which was once a sliver of hope for kids who were separated from their clothes has evolved into a sadistic mini-mall for moochers. “Honestly,” Mark concluded, “I wouldn’t do it if it wasn’t so easy.”