"Hi, hi! The more important it is to others, the more it's worth to steal. It's great watching dithered faces!"Kleptomania, 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) with no regard to any material gain. While it might seem quite mild, it can lead to compulsive shoplifting and is often comorbid with personality disorders, which can make things 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 (compared to actual sufferers of kleptomania, who feel an impulse to steal regardless of the value of the item, and often feel guilty afterwards). 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 card. 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 instead. Also not be confused with a certain Stand, or the music it references either.
— The Thief, Disgaea 3
open/close all folders
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.
- Jax from Jax Epoch and the Quicken Forbidden stole a notepad and a spellbook and magic gloves and boots
- 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.
- Black Moon Chronicles: Even after becoming a powerful general in Wismerhill's army, Pile-ou-Face is often seen robbing people of their purses in the background.
- 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.
- Whirlpool: Ann Sutton is a rich, bored housewife who has been caught stealing several times.
- 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.
- Bubble: Rose steals money from Kyle's drawer during their date. She is also seen with the gold watch that was on the dresser of the house she was cleaning. Her ex-boyfriend accuses her of stealing money and weed from his home, which seems likely.
- 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 around 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 The Murder at the Vicarage is responsible for misappropriation of the Church funds, and is likely the cause of the disappearance of a pound note which the Vicar mentioned in the beginning of the novel.
- Anne Meredith from Cards on the Table is a known thief who committed murder after her employer discovered her stealing habits.
- Alton the butler from Lord Edgware Dies discovered the victim's body and did not report it immediately. Instead, he saw it as an opportunity to steal cash that was lying about nearby.
- 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.)
- In The Iron Teeth, goblins don't steal. Humans are just really touchy about people rescuing shinies they leave lying around.
- In the second era of the Mistborn series, Wayne, the PTSD-suffering sidekick of Wax, will frequently steal small items. Sometimes he does it for a specific purpose, sometimes for no apparent reason. He always leaves something in exchange, though, but the value is not always similar.
- Villains by Necessity: Arcie is the former leader of the (now defunct) Thieves Guild and pockets everything he comes across, even if they happen to be owned by his traveling companions.
- In Heralds of Valdemar Skif, a former street urchin and thief, tends to pickpocket people for fun. He also plays a lot of pranks that involve stealing and/or breaking in.
Live Action TV
- Our Miss Brooks: Somebody is stealing phonebooks in the episode "Phonebook Follies".
- 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.
- Liv becomes one in the iZombie pilot after eating the brain of a dead Romanian escort. This also helps her figure out why the escort died (she took something she shouldn't have). One of the things Liv steals is a red Swingline stapler. At the end of the episode, after eating another brain, she replaces all the stolen items.
- In an episode of Waiting for God, several residents report items missing from their rooms. It turns out to be resident ditz Betty who's absent-mindedly stealing everything.
- Neal Caffrey from White Collar has this problem, especially early in the series. As a convicted felon and confidential informant for the FBI, it probably isn't a good idea to pick his handler's pocket, yet he still does it. Even though, considering the characters, and the fact that Neal tends to give what he steals from Peter back almost immediately, this probably amounts to good natured teasing in the context of their relationship, doing this to a federal agent doesn't say much for Neal's self-preservation. Lampshaded by Mozzie, another thief who likes stealing things just as much, but does not have the impulse control of a two-year-old.
Mozzie (after Neal steals a painting despite the fact that it would be incredibly obvious that he stole it, and he could go back to prison for a long time of someone found out): You're like a child.
- Midsomer Murders: In "Down Among the Dead Men", one of the suspects is a kleptomaniac cleaning woman who is being blackmailed by one of her clients. When Barnaby discovers her secret, she shows him a room crammed to the brim with objects she has stolen from her employers.
- ER. Luka gets his new girlfriend a job at the hospital. It's soon offhandedly mentioned that the petty cash is missing. Later, Abby mentions that she can't find her wallet. Later still, the desk clerk is looking for his PDA when he hears it chiming (he sets an alarm to remind him to take his medication) from the girl's purse. Sure enough, she has it, and everyone instantly realizes that she's responsible for everything else. She takes off, and in his futile efforts to find her, Luka learns that she was also stealing from the bar where she previously worked.
- Veronica's Closet. Veronica hires a new model for a fashion show and is amazed as throughout the interview, the woman constantly picks up things and puts them in her purse without the slightest acknowledgement that she's stealing. She continues this behavior throughout the show, stealing the light bulbs from the runway, blithely declaring, "Those are my light bulbs!" when Veronica confronts her. Veronica finally gets fed up and fires her when the woman has the nerve to steal her bracelet right off of her wrist and insist, "This is my bracelet!". The woman leaves in a huff, but not before taking a folding chair along with her.
- An episode of Zoey101 has Coco getting fired and the school getting a new dorm advisor who's better than Coco in every way, until Zoey and her friends discover that she has been stealing from students and staff, which she blames on a mental illness. The last scene of the episode shows her stealing the dean's car.
- 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.
- "How Many Tbone Steaks Can I Fit In My Pants," by BA Johnston, is about the boss of a grocery store not giving an employee a raise, and the employee retaliates by constantly stealing from work. Even the awful toilet paper.
- The Kender from the Dragonlance Dungeons & Dragons setting are an entire race of pseudo-Hobbits who are relentless thieves that will pick pockets and break into locked chests/drawers/houses without even consciously thinking about it, to the point that the "kender greeting" from other races is to swear and protectively clutch at one's valuables. Worse, they do this out of an intense natural curiosity, meaning every single kender is 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. This trait is one of many reasons why kender are considered The Scrappy of the setting and even of D&D as a whole.
- Half-kender keep the kender tendency to unthinkingly 'borrow' interesting things, but tend to feel worse about it as their human side lets them have a better understanding of concepts like ownership and private property. On the plus side they tend to be better at remembering to actually return the things they pick up, on the negative side people tend to react negatively to them since they still tend to pick up things and don't look like kender so you don't realize you have to take measures to protect your stuff.
- The Blood Ravens of Warhammer40000 obsessively collect artifacts of historical value, especially anything that might hold a clue to their lost history. Fanonically, this is exaggerated (perhaps not terribly so), to the point of grabbing ANYTHING that might be of historical value, a useful weapon or piece of wargear, or bling for the heck of it. This has earned them the nickname of the "Bloody Magpies".
- The semi-felinoid alien Sparrials in the GURPS Space setting have Kleptomania as a trait in their species template.
- The Halflings in Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay are stereotyped as having sticky fingers, but the reasoning behind it are quite complex. Halflings usually live in large villages where everyone is more or less related. This leads to property rights being rather fluid; if something is missing, it's probably been borrowed by someone who needed it and who might or might not bring it back, but who really cares since we can borrow someone else's. This attitude, when transferred to human or Dwarf society (both of whom are very keen on personal property) easily comes across as skuzzy.
- 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 & Tribulations.
- Phineas Filch in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies
- 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).
- In The Elder Scrolls series, this is a cultural trait of the Khajiit. As their language has no word for "rules" and they take a rather loose view of what constitutes personal property, this is unusually Justified. In their culture, taking things that belong to others simply isn't seen as wrong. Unsurprisingly, this leads to significant Culture Clash with the other races who consider the Khajiit taking things to be "theft", and the Fantastic Racists of those races use it against the Khajiit to bar them from their cities and even to justify slavery. Additionally, Khajiit who've lived among other cultures have shown the ability to grasp the concept.
- Moshi Monsters: Zigzagged. Tiki the toucan tends to steal objects with the intention of just borrowing them but neglecting to return them. Baz Barnacle takes things from his cousin Buck and sells them, but as far as he's concerned, he's just borrowing them. Raffles the Sneaky Tealeaf steals objects a lot but he always gives them back.
- Adventurers with the Kleptomania negative quirk in Darkest Dungeon randomly half-inch stuff out of curios in the dungeons. Unusually, it's considered to be one of the very worst quirks a hero can have, for two reasons. One, the Hamlet runs entirely on the loot economy, and anything stolen by a Kleptomaniac adventurer isn't coming back. Two, a lot of items you can interact with need a special item to make safe - keys, purifying herbs, holy water - and Kleptomaniac adventurers don't bother, meaning they tend to cost a bit more in bandages, antivenom and medical treatments from all the blight, bleed and diseases they pick up from opening trapped chests and rooting through the guts of decaying sea creatures.
- 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.
- Spring Clean of Star Mares is a hoarder of 'collectibles,' with a particular fascination for shiny things - including ancient mystical artifacts that are part of the inner workings of immortal cyborg generals.
- 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.
- Hazard from the Whateley Universe is a known kleptomaniac.
- Joseph from SuperMarioLogan is implied to be one, since "Joseph's House!" reveals he efficiently stole Bowser Junior's Clown Car and house painting as well as Cody's Go-Kart trophy. At the end of the video however, Junior and Cody take the Clown Car and trophy with them when they flee from Joseph's run-down house after extremely getting scared by a Boo.
- Dijon from DuckTales. While a common thief otherwise, also seems to suffer from kleptomania, unable to resist stealing even when not intending to, including stealing worthless junk like old shoes.
- 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.
Fry: 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.
- In an episode of Goof Troop, Pete accidentally turns Goofy into one using hypnosis.
- Grunkle Stan from Gravity Falls will steal anything he wants or needs, from waxworks to light bulbs. While he does have his reasons, such as having spent his late teens to his late twenties living alone in poverty, it's mostly due to his greed and the fact that he seems to genuinely enjoy breaking the law.
- Peep on Jimmy Two-Shoes, to compliment his father's dealership.
- One of Zak's little friends from The Secret Saturdays is a thief.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- Monkeys are known to steal food, backpacks, phones or anything they can take from people.
- 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 driver's license.