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6 famous celebrity shoplifters

Winona Ryder
Winona Ryder| Image: Tinseltown /

To say shoplifting is rife is somewhat of an understatement, but it's still a shock when we learn that a public figure or celebrity has been caught helping themselves to a five-finger discount.

Perhaps even more remarkable is that there are a surprising number of well-known faces who have been caught shoplifting. The following list includes three internationally famous names from the USA, three instantly recognisable household names from the UK and one final case from history to remind us that things aren’t always what they seem.

1. Lindsay Lohan

To be fair, Lohan was already more than familiar with courtrooms and jail time when she was convicted of stealing a $2,500 gold necklace from a shop in LA in February 2011. The Parent Trap and Mean Girls star, then 24, pleaded no contest and was sentenced to 20 days in jail and 120 hours of community service.

In the end, she served 30 days under house arrest but was re-arrested in November 2011 for not fulfilling her community order. Lohan was subsequently sentenced to 30 days in jail but served less than five hours because of prison overcrowding.

2. Wynona Ryder

Ryder was 29 when she lifted $5,000 worth of designer clothes from Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills in December 2001. The Girl, Interrupted and Little Women star didn’t initially provide a reason for her actions, outside of something about doing research for a movie about kleptomania, but later said that, ‘Psychologically, I must have been at a place where I just wanted to stop’.

She even said the conviction, for which she served 480 hours of community service and paid fines of $2,700, had a positive effect on her, as she could take a break from the pressures associated with working in Hollywood and fame.

3. Britney Spears

Spears was 25 when she visited an adult store in LA at 1am in November 2007. It’s then alleged that the popstar was refused permission to try on some underwear in the changing rooms, so she removed her underwear in the middle of the store and tried on the new pair in full view of customers and staff. While this behaviour might seem a little strange, she did pay for the item, but before leaving, it was alleged Spears grabbed a wig off a mannequin and ran off into the night.

About a month later she admitted stealing a $1.39 lighter from a petrol station in Sherman Oaks California to a group of photographers. It's alleged that one of the photographers paid for the item on her behalf.

4. Antony Worrall Thompson

TV chef Henry Antony Cardew Worrall Thompson was a regular fixture on British television and, while he still occasionally makes an appearance, it would seem that since he was caught shoplifting from a Henley-on-Thames branch of Tesco in 2012, he’s had more time to focus on other ventures.

Thompson, then 60, was caught by staff stealing, among other things, cheese and wine at a self-checkout machine on five separate occasions. The police handed him a caution. He apologised unreservedly about his behaviour and, after some counselling, blamed the incident on, among other things, his unhappy childhood.

5. Richard Madeley

‘I put the food through the till, I forgot to take the champagne out,’ said daytime TV presenter Richard Madeley, who was 38 years old when he was caught shoplifting from a Manchester branch of Tesco on one of two separate occasions in 1994. He was arrested and charged but was later acquitted after admitting to having suffered memory loss. A bad year followed, but the incident didn’t have a significant impact on his career and he’s still broadcasting today.

6. Lady Isobel Barnett

Unless you are of a certain age, you probably haven’t heard of Lady Isobel Barnett. In the early 50s she was a regular on BBC show called What’s My Line. She was a popular fixture on the show with an elegant exterior concealing an incisive wit, but by the mid 70s she’d become somewhat of a recluse, possibly as a result of her husband’s death a few years earlier.

In 1980, Lady Barnett was caught shoplifting a can of tuna and some cream worth 87 pence. She was fined £75 and, four days later, took her own life. Two days before she died, she told an interviewer that she’d been compulsively stealing from shops for years and even had a ‘poacher’s pocket’ sewn into the inside of her coat.