He introduced himself as the Kit-Kat bandit. We’d met before, and he’d never gone by that name before. I don’t know that anyone else called him that – it was a self-imposed title. It had more to do with function, I learned, than with christening. He was in a desperate place – I’d never seen him in such, before. His confidence was shot; his assurances were broken. He was paranoid, insecure, destitute. The Kit-Kat bandit.
Once he had stolen a pair of shoes, only to exchange them the next day for a larger size. Incredulous, the cashier had asked what he though he was doing: why would a person return to the scene of the crime? why would he try to exchange, via regular routes, stolen shoes for which he had no receipt? why would he openly admit this situation to her? His response: he hadn’t taken them to profit from them, but because he needed to wear them – he had no others. So they needed to fit.
He said he would steal Kit-Kats, he was so hungry. They were his chocolate bar of choice, and he had no money for them, let alone for the food he needed.
There was a spooked look in his eye, as though he were prey. To all appearances, he must have felt hunted. Lights kept turning on wherever he went, he said – as though someone was watching him. I felt that to even inquire about motion sensors would be treating his situation too lightly.
He was desperate. He said he’d already given the law enough “reason.” Why hadn’t they picked him up?
For months he had lived by hocking his possessions. He had nothing left but the clothes he wore. His coat was too small for him, and it was bitterly cold. I made sure he had one that fit. His shoes, mentioned above, were canvas sneakers. He wore dog tags – fashion, not from the service. How these had lasted on him, I cannot say.
For months he had drifted from crack den to crack den. When he couldn’t pay his tab, he had traded his car. When he couldn’t pay his tab, he had traded his clothes.
When he stole Kit-Kats he would make eye contact with shop owners, and move so deliberately that they couldn’t have doubted what he was doing. There hadn’t been any deception in the act. “I cleaned all of the Kit-Kats out of that town,” he told me.
Did they see the desperation, the hopelessness, the brokenness, in his eyes? Is that why they had let him?
“Maybe I’ll just give them a reason…” we both knew he already had. “Maybe I’ll just go punch a cop.” We both knew he wouldn’t.
You don’t push or corner desperate men, there’s no telling what they might do. I didn’t emphasize, with him, that I am the RCMP chaplain, here. My coat says so, and he knew it already from previous encounters – and this encounter was so brief. Just a couple of hours. Some reassurance. Some gentle urging toward godly living. Some real food. A coat that fit. The East Coast is a long way from here, and he had a long bus ride ahead. My task was to send him home to family. The Kit-Kat Bandit’s family.