Did you hear the story about the shoplifter who tried to steal a frozen chicken? He hid the chicken under his hat and then went to wait in the checkout line to buy something cheap. Not sure what he was trying to buy. Maybe it was a pack of gum.
Unfortunately, he didn’t take the extreme cold into account. The frozen chicken gave him a whole new type of brain-freeze. He ended up fainting from the cold bird on top of his head.
Maybe you didn’t hear that one. But, did you hear about the other time a shoplifter tried to steal a frozen roast? Or was it a steak? Blood and juice started leaking down his face as the food thawed. They caught him “red-faced.” Get it? Red-faced?
These stories have been circulating in Europe, America, and Canada since at least the 1970’s. The European versions tended to feature a frozen chicken, while the American and Canadian versions featured a steak or some other frozen food. 1
This and other urban legends are updated stories of shoplifters hiding items under hats or other clothing. It was inevitable that when frozen food became commonplace a related legend would grow up around it. There is also a story about a woman trying to hide a watermelon under her dress, in the hopes she would simply appear to be pregnant. This story may have never happened but perhaps it was related to a similar incident that actually did happen.
In 1985, in Arlington Virginia, a woman in a sporting-goods store was stopped and search by store staff. They thought she was trying to steal a basketball. She was trying to steal a basketball, by hiding it under her dress. Although this story undoubtedly seemed to be just another urban legend about stolen items being hidden under clothing, in this case, the truth was at least as strange as fiction. The woman even sued the store, claiming false arrest and negligence. She lost, of course. 2
When Urban Legends Meet Reality
Of course, people try to hide shoplifted items under their clothing. And much of the time, they succeed. Sometimes they overdo it and try to steal items that are much too large and heavy. This is one of those cases where what would seem to be an urban legend just might turn out to be true.
There are stores about women hiding shoplifted items under their skirts and, of all places, between their legs. This would seem unlikely, but usually, these items are small and lightweight. The more bizarre “urban legend” versions of these stories involve exceedingly large, awkward, and heavy items, such as the story of a woman in Norway who hid a 42-inch TV between her legs. 3 Even more bizarre is the 2015 story of a woman in Walmart, cover by snopes, who hid $100 worth of groceries in her vagina. 4
- Brunvand, Jan Harold. Encyclopedia of Urban Legends, Updated and Expanded Edition. A-L. ABC-CLIO, 2012.
- The Ultimate Urban Legends. Pink Mint Publications, 2008.
- “Thief Arrested for Shoplifting after Hiding 42in TV under Her Skirt.” Daily Mail Online, Associated Newspapers, 13 Aug. 2012, www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2187983/Thief-arrested-shoplifting-hiding-42in-TV-skirt.html.
- Woman at Walmart Arrested for Shoplifting; Police Find $100 Worth of Groceries in Her Vagina.” Snopes.com, Snopes, 23 Oct. 2016, www.snopes.com/media/notnews/walmartshoplifter.asp.