"Hi, hi! The more important it is to others, the more it's worth to steal. It's great watching dithered faces!"
, from the Greek root words "kleptein" (to steal) and "mania" (obsession with, madness). In the real world, it's an obsession with collecting or hoarding things (which are typically small items like paperclips or pens, which the sufferer may or may not be even aware they stole) thought to be related to OCD. While it might seem quite mild, it can lead to compulsive shoplifting and often appears alongside personality disorders, which can make the consequences (should it lead to shoplifting) even worse.
In fiction, it's the trait of a Loveable Rogue
and is frequently played for laughs. "Sufferers" tend to outright enjoy the act of theft, steal anything that isn't nailed down (particularly if it's valuable, in contrast to Real Life
sufferers), gleefully enjoy the material rewards and may well be a Karma Houdini
for this. They are distinguished from other thief related tropes by the fact that they steal for the pleasure of stealing and frequently have trouble leaving something valuable be. They may or may not be outright described as suffering from kleptomania. Sympathetic characters are often Mr. Vice Guy
In the animal realm, this is a trait of the packrat and the magpie
Compare For the Evulz
. Characters who might have this trait include the Lovable Rogue
, the Gentleman Thief
(particularly if they do it out of boredom), and the Token Evil Teammate
. They are often an Impossible Thief
. The Kleptomaniac Hero
is given this trait by the player's own actions (which may be lampshaded as this trope) but not necessarily characterized as such. This character may make liberal use of their Five-Finger Discount
You know they've met their match when you hear the words "Oi - Give Me Back My Wallet
If this isn't what you thought it was when you clicked on the link, you might want to try A Date with Rosie Palms
Also has no relation to certain Jojos Bizarre Adventure
's character either.
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Anime and Manga
- Ranma ½
- Genma Saotome.
- Also Asuza Shiratori, but only for things she sees as cute.
- The titular character of Lupin III is the Gentleman Thief variant.
- Sasha Blouse from Attack on Titan is a Big Eater prone to stealing food. While normally Played for Laughs, her obsession with food resulted from surviving a severe food shortage during her childhood. As such, she tends to habitually snag food whenever she sees it and is affectionately teased by her comrades for her thieving habits.
- Tabitha "Boom-Boom" Smith, in Warren Ellis's Nextwave "possesses the mutant powers of blowing things up and stealing all your stuff."
- Tank Girl and all her friends, habitually.
- Tintin: "The Secret of the Unicorn", a kleptomaniac named Aristides Silk steals Tintin's wallet which contains a Plot Coupon. It turns out that, similar to Real Life kleptomaniacs, he feels rather guilty about his actions; he sorts the stolen wallets by the owner's name. Thomson and Thompson end up walking out with their arms full of their own stolen wallets, and their countermeasures have varying degrees of success and slapstick.
- "Fingers", a stage magician and thief encountered by Lucky Luke once. Not only will he constantly pickpocket everyone around him (which means he cannot be kept in prison, because he will casually disarm the guards and steal their keys), but he will regularly offer you your wallet, gun and underwear back, as a gesture of goodwill.
- From the film The Thief and the Cobbler, who else but the Thief? He steals pretty much everything he can possibly get his hands on, and tries to steal several things he shouldn't even try to get his hands on. At the end of the film, he also steals all the letters from the words "The End", and then goes on to steal the film-strip itself.
- Abu in Disney's Aladdin, in contrast to Al, who only stole as a necessity. This often got him and the others in trouble.
- In Tangled, Flynn lifts the satchel with their loot from his own partners in the opening — and at the conclusion, lifts Rapunzel's tiara — giving it back after a dirty look.
Film -Live Action
- Allison from The Breakfast Club, who steals the lock to Bender's locker, his knife, Brian's wallet and a patch from Andrew's jacket.
- There is a character from the movie If Its Tuesday This Must Be Belgium who starts the trip with an empty suitcase. By the end of the film, the suitcase is full of stuff he's pilfered, including a life preserver from a cruise boat.
- In the second Home Alone film, Marv engages in some petty theft with literal sticky fingers: covering one of his hands in tape and then sticking it into a Salvation Army bucket full of change as he walks by.
- Emmett Ray of Sweet And Lowdown appears to be an easily diagnosible kleptomaniac.
- The Marx Brothers: Harpo in most of his appearances.
- How High: In the scene where Silas is making the "special brownies" for Dean Cain, I Need Money tries (but fails) to steal the milk bottle.
- Help! - The Beatles visit a jeweler seeking help to remove a ring stuck on Ringo's finger - in the background, George casually pockets several bits of merchandise.
- Alvin Firpo from Trapped In Paradise is frequently seen stealing stuff, regardless of whether or not it has any practical value.
- Dodger the Capuchin monkey from Monkey Trouble.
- In X-Men: Days of Future Past, Quicksilver's basement is full of stolen goods such as several TVs, a Pong arcade machine and an entire shelf of junk food. His mother, upon opening the door, assumes Wolverine and co. are cops and simply offers to cut a check for whatever he stole.
- Moist von Lipwig- it's a Running Gag that he keeps stealing Drumknott's pencil and certain samples of paper.
- And Nobby Nobbs is a fellow kleptomaniac. Thud! brings up the problem of why Nobby is allowed to be on the City Watch despite his thieving ways. It's because he's an old friend of Sam Vimes, he seldom steals anything of value, and (like Fred Colon) has a keen ability to read the mood on the streets as well as his ability to sneak around where the (worse) criminals can't see him. Nobby's ability to steal without being seen has also come in handy a few times, and is part of the reason he is still employed.
- Silk from The Belgariad.
- Mulch the kleptomaniac dwarf from the Artemis Fowl series fits this trope. He also likes to steal things just for the challenge.
- The main character of Mary Anderson's book, Step On a Crack suffers from an odd sort of kleptomania where she feels compelled to steal certain items over and over in conjunction with nightmares and occasional fugue states. All of her problems stem from repressed memories of her real mother.
- Jean de Flambeur from The Quantum Thief is a Gentleman Thief of the Transhuman Age and is used to stealing things like time, minds or planets, but he still compulsively pickpockets people arond him to stay in shape. At times it's actually useful.
- The eponymous Locke Lamora, of The Lies of Locke Lamora, once had it said about him that "if he had a bloody gash across his throat and a physiker was trying to sew it up, Lamora would steal the needle and thread and die laughing. He... steals too much." Lamora was 5 years old at the time.
- Agatha Christie:
- Mrs Van Schuyler from Death on the Nile
- Curate Hawes from Murder At The Vicarage
- Played with in Hickory-Dickory Dock, when it seems there's one of these at large in a student boarding house. Not only was Celia actually faking to get the attention of a psychiatry student she's in love with, but she was actually given the idea by a fellow lodger... who turns out to be the accomplice of a third resident who is a smuggler and used Celia's faked condition to disguise the creeping around he had to do in the course of his activities.
- Magnet from Holes. Things just seem to stick to him wherever he goes. Unfortunately, a lot of those items don't belong to him, so he wound up at the juvenile camp.
- Played for Drama (a small amount of drama) in the X-Wing Series novel Wraith Squadron. A bit character who interviews to join the eponymous squadron is rejected when he, apparently compulsorily, swipes a framed picture from the commander's desk. (It's mentioned that he is facing charges for several other, equally petty, thefts, but is confident he'll be cleared.)
Live Action TV
- Played for Drama (and somewhat more realistically) in an episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent when a couple of murderers are caught when one of them can't resist stealing an eggcup from their victims' home. This leads to a somewhat Narmy ending where her partner screams "EGGCUP!" at her while he's hauled off.
- Parker from Leverage. Interestingly she actually poses as a kleptomaniac when the team needs to infiltrate a rehab facility.
- Faith in her early appearances on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Dawn started doing this late in season 5, and it became a serious issue in season 6 when the Dysfunction Junction was at its worst.
- Adrianna on Beverly Hills 90210
- In the first episode of Heroes Angela Petrelli was established as a kleptomaniac who stole socks. It wasn't explained until season four.
- Kenzi in Lost Girl.
- Mike Hamar of The Red Green Show is a robber on parole who hasn't had an honest day's work in his life. A Running Gag is that he frequently has to return small items to the people he's talking to, having picked their pockets out of force of habit.
- A more realistic than usual example on My Name Is Earl of all things, with a recurring character who is shamefully compelled to steal pens and only pens, regardless of how many he has already, and regardless of the fact that he doesn't even want the pens. Still Played for Laughs, though.
- The titular character of Sherlock. He breaks his flatmate's computer password to use the laptop ("Mine was in the bedroom"), has stolen more than one of Lestrade's police IDs (he comments that he "pickpocket(s) him when he annoys me"), and has taken the precaution of taking his older brother's ID in case he might ever need it.
- Amanda from Highlander. She's more or less the Hollywood version, with a taste for expensive stuff.
- An episode of Alf dealt with this when one of Tanner's neighbors is revealed to be a kleptomaniac. Alf caught her stealing some of the family's jewelery and confronted her son, who he had become friends with, and he had to explain that his mother simply couldn't help it.
- In Tricia's back-story in Orange Is The New Black, she stole even while trying to pay a store back for something else she stole.
- In Help!!, George Harrison is seen sneaking various items into his pockets as the Fab Four see the local jeweler.
- The Exodus song "Force Of Habit" is about someone fitting this trope.
- The Rolling Stones have an album named Sticky Fingers.
- The Kender from the Dragonlance Dungeons & Dragons setting are convinced that they're only borrowing interesting things in good faith, and will certainly return them. Except they often wander off and forget the whole thing... but they're utterly convinced that they're not doing anything wrong. In fact, accuse a kender of being a thief and he will protest at length. Kender always have dozens of pockets in which they keep their various pilfered goods. As a gameplay mechanic, a Kender can check their pockets to try and find an item of trivial value that they have stolen without remembering.
- Tabletop Game/Warhammer40000 has the Blood Ravens, who are also known as the Blood Magpies due to their tradition of grabbing ANYTHING that might possibly be a clue to their lost history, a useful weapon, bling or for the heck of it.
- You! Yes, you, in countless video games, especially Role-Playing Games. Pretty much anything that's not part of the background is potentially yours and many games explicitly encourage you to take anything not nailed down. Affects moral alignment in games that have such.
- Sonic the Hedgehog has Rouge the Bat.
- Marisa Kirisame in Touhou figures that since a human lifespan is so much shorter than a Youkai's, she can "borrow" whatever she wants, and they can have it back after she's dead.
- She's also working on an elixir of immortality, so...
- The thief units in Disgaea are given this characterisation as the page quote shows.
- The Sims 3: You can give your Sims the "Kleptomanic" trait. It lets you swipe three items per day. However, the item your Sim steals is random.
- Spies in The Sims Medieval can steal from other Sims as well as from the messenger posts. Because of this, spies can get more money more easily than almost any other profession.
- Jean Armstrong in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations.
- Shir Gold from Phantasy Star II has a random chance of stealing from every armory, armor shop, or item shop you enter with her in the party. The downside of this is that she'll also hightail back to your base, even if you're currently in the entirely different planet.
- Garrett of Thief usually gives "the rent is due" as an excuse for his thieving, or has some other objective he needs to accomplish. However, it is clear from his actions and dialogue that he really enjoys theft and is, at least partially, Doing It for the Art. For example, when a museum in Deadly Shadows boasts that its security is impenetrable, Garrett takes it as a personal challenge.
- Billiken is a more aggressive version of this in Devil Survivor 2 - he compulsively mugs other demons (or tamers) and has no qualms about killing. Once he depletes your wallet, he can hit you with the powerful Barrage Strike move.
- The twin ghosts at the Labyrinth of Amala in Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne, on the other hand, will take the nonviolent approach: they will offer you A Spot Of Tea for a very low sum. The tea is drugged, and they will kick you and our demons back into the entrance of that Kalpa, after helping themselves to more of your money, of course.
- 100% Orange Juice: Marie Poppo kickstarts the plots of the various campaigns by stealing other characters’ valuables. This is also demonstrated by her Hyper “Ubiquitous” where it has her teleport to another character and steal their stars.
- The Villager in the Super Smash Bros. series is portrayed this way, whose Pocket move allows the Villager to grab objects not already held by someone else, store it, and use it later. This includes nearly all projectiles in the game, most of the items that occasionally drop onto the stage, and anything left on the ground by any character's moves (including things that shouldn't logically be able to fit in the Villager's trousers' pocket, such as energy blasts, lightning bolts, and Rush).
- Ultra Fast Pony has Applejack stealing random stuff, off-screen. Like trees, bicycles, and medical supplies.
- Sam Starfall in Freefall is good enough at pickpocketing that his sticky fingers become a problem when he tries to go honest.
- Thief in 8-Bit Theater, who steals from everyone (both via outright sleight of hand and contracts with legal mumbo jumbo) to finance the search for a cure for his sick father. When this is done he still steals everything that's isn't both nailed down and on fire.
- The pixie Feiht in Chasing the Sunset regards anything shiny as there for the taking. (Spelling her name backwards gives you a clue to her personality.)
- "The Raccoon" from Kiwi Blitz. He steals "random crap" purely for thrills, and doesn't mind returning it when forced to do so. A later flashback shows that he literally has kleptomania.
- Megatokyo: Meimi Sonoda and her daughter Yuki. They often only realize they have stolen something when on their way home. Their kleptomania is tied to their powers. Meimi is an expy of Saint Tail.
- Sette Frummagem from Unsounded. Her dad is a head of the thieves' guild, so it's no surprise that she would become a pickpocket. What is a surprise is how good she is at it.
- Sidney Malik Of Widdershins is cursed with this. Walking though a crowd could result in a extra ten wallets with no effort from him. He isn't happy with the curse and it may have played a part in him being expelled.
- Bender from Futurama. Just as well he seems to have near-infinite space in his chest, though in one episode he goes on such an epic spree of kleptomania that he nearly fills it up.
Come on, Bender. I'm sure there's plenty of cool stuff to swipe. Bender:
I don't know, Fry. I feel like, for the first time in my life, I've stolen enough. Fry:
What?!? Snap out of it! (slaps Bender) Bender:
Wow, thanks buddy. Don't know what came over me. (sing-song) Oh, I love stealin'. I love takin' things.
- One of Zak's little friends from The Secret Saturdays is a thief.
- Red X in Teen Titans outright states that he steals for fun.
- The mysterious pickpocket in the Tintin episode "The Secret of the Unicorn" is revealed to be a kleptomaniac old man who doesn't see anything wrong with collecting wallets (he doesn't even empty them out, just puts them on a shelf in alphabetical order).
- In an episode of Goof Troop, Pete accidentally turns Goofy into one using hypnosis.
- Peep on Jimmy Two-Shoes, to compliment his father's dealership.
- Sonic Underground:
- Sonic's brother Manic has this problem. It stems from his upbringing as a thief's adopted son.
- Said adoptive father might also count, given the first thing we see him do is steal Manic as a Doorstop Baby (left on someone else's doorstep).
- Mr. Krabs in Spongebob Squarepants. One episode had an amusement park hosting a "Free Day" where everything in the park was free. Mr. Krabs took this to mean everything, including streetlight lightbulbs and the egg of the star attraction.
- Homer Simpson from The Simpsons has been known to steal beer mugs from Moe's, office supplies (including computers) from work and especially just about anything from Ned Flanders. One episode had him get a job at a Wal-mart parody only to find out every employee has a shock collar on their neck. When his coworkers told him they all knew how to disable the collars and steal everything that's not nailed down, they asked him not to judge them. Homer not only doesn't judge them but he steals an entire cart of TVs right then and there.
- Magpies. Most other members of the corvid family including crows and ravens are similarly known for stealing shiny things.
- This ferret. Ferrets and mustelidae in general are well known for this.
- One of the unfortunate tendencies of King Farouk of Egypt was his habit of stealing from his hosts. He famously stole a pocket watch from the British Prime Minister (nobody's quite clear whether it was Winston Churchill, Neville Chamberlain, or Clement Attlee), and filched a sword from the his brother-in-law, the Shah of Iran. He thus obtained the unenviable nickname, "The Thief of Cairo." He was overthrown in 1952.
By the way, here's your wallet back. I've already memorized your credit card numbers and photocopied your driving licence.