John Dillinger, Bonnie and Clyde, Jesse James. Throughout history there have been countless figures that decided they were going to get rich quick by unlawful means. At some point we have all fantasized about planning a heist with the “Ocean’s Eleven” team or being a part of a high speed chase with the guys from the movie “Heat.” Despite the grandiose nature of some of the figures in history, thefts happen much more frequently and are nowhere near as glamorous.

A few months ago, I was caught trying to steal a pair of headphones from the UCSB bookstore — an inexpensive pair of headphones that were 100 percent insignificant in the scope of things, but turned out to be very significant for me. The worst part was that I had money on me that I could have used to pay for them! After a lifetime of becoming “educated,” I went and broke a cardinal rule that we supposedly learned as toddlers. Apparently I missed that day of preschool.

The following weeks were laden with sleepless nights and questions about what was going to happen to me. Was I going to get kicked out of UCSB? Was I going to have to go to court? What were the side effects of my stupidity going to be? After weeks of tossing and turning over my uncertain future, I finally got my answer. My savior came in the form of a meeting that admitted me into the Restorative Justice program on campus. The program essentially serves as an alternative, more constructive penance that helps you fix whatever wrongdoings you may have committed. This was a much better solution than the medieval punishment for stealing of chopping off a hand (which I was expecting).

During the RJ circle, I shared my story with a group of people who were affected by my actions. After hearing how I affected the people in the circle, the group and I came up with some things I could do to make up for my wrongdoing and give back to my community. As part of the sanctions, I was able to talk to both the asset protection manager at UCSB’s Bookstore as well as the local District Attorney’s office, the people I would have faced if not for qualifying for the RJ program.

I was utterly shocked to learn that the bookstore loses over $50,000 a year from shoplifting. On top of that, I discovered that all of the money from the bookstore goes back to UCSB students in one way or another, so I was basically stealing from myself, my friends and the rest of my colleagues at UCSB. I went on to find out that I could have been facing thousands of dollars in fines, legal fees, possible jail time and the lifelong brand as a criminal. All of this for a simple little pair of headphones!

Some people think that stealing something of such a minute nature can’t have that much effect on their life or the people they stole from. I thought that way for a while, and let me be the first to tell you that my life will forever be changed by the side effects of my seemingly trivial unlawful acquisition of merchandise.

My parents always told me to learn lessons the easy way by not making the mistakes yourself. I learned this one the hard way, and I hope that everyone will take my mistake and learn from where I went wrong. The moral of the story? Don’t steal from the Bookstore or anywhere else for that matter. It is just not worth all of the side effects.

Zach Healy is a fourth-year communication major.