Thieving? It would be criminal not to

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TOILET roll, that’s mine.

The shower gels and the shampoos are too risky. You swipe them, they may split and spill in your case. You’re asking for a world of dry-cleaning trouble there.

But if I can leave a hotel room with some Andrex stuffed slyly into my luggage I feel content. I feel I’ve got my money’s worth. I feel it doesn’t matter I coughed up a small fortune to kip in an uncomfy bed above the service yard, I’ve still somehow stuck one on the chin of The Man.

This, patently, is wrong.

It is also weird – “what’s wrong with just taking the hand soaps, man?” – but I admit this little act of illegality has become part of my holiday routine.

The way I see it, my custom keeps the hotel in business and shareholders in profits. So they can offer a small token of gratitude by making a contribution to my little loo.

Are you tutting? Probably not, apparently.

A survey this week revealed we are a nation of minor thieves. More than 90 per cent of people questioned in the poll by said they had taken something which wasn’t theirs.

They’d sloped off with shampoos, pegged it with post office pens, and done runners with restaurant condiments.

Presumably that last one means swiping sachets rather than walking out with a bottle of Hendo’s hidden under their shirt.

Other admissions included hooking up to unprotected internet connection, nibbling sweets at a pick ’n’ mix, and taking company stationery.

To which there is surely only one sensible reaction: good on us. Because, while I don’t condone breaking the law, surely these moments of rebellion are our natural-held right.

We don’t ask much in this country. We let ourselves be put on. We allow big business and multinationals, councils and government officials, to get away with vaguely dark and dubious dealings. We don’t tend to rebel or riot.

For one thing it’s too cold; for another, there’s no guarantee any revolution would be over in time for Coronation Street. In short, we’re well behaved.

But we do like a freebie. And by freebie I mean ‘semi-legal opportunity to make off with something that, in the strictest sense of the word, isn’t ours’.

This isn’t, I’m pretty sure, for the gain it brings.

Rather, I reckon it’s a sort of evening up of scores. A soothing of souls in an unfair world. An unwritten deal between the people and the supposedly powerful that we won’t go all Russia 1917 if they don’t ask why there’s sugar on our lips when we pay for the pick ’n’ mix.

You look the other way, Starbucks, while we put some sugars in our bag. And we’ll not smash the place up when it emerges you haven’t paid any tax for years. Deal? Good.

It’s nothing new, of course. My nana was perfecting the art of pilfering years ago.

Her handbag was a seemingly bottomless depository of sugars, salts, seasonings, salad creams and other assorted sauces swiped from unsuspecting eateries. Give it to Jamie Oliver and, I swear, he’d have been able to whip up a three-course meal.

Bless her. And bless us who continue that trend of taking what we can where we can for no other reason than, well, why not?

May it long continue. For perhaps technically, such little thefts are illegal but, really, it would be criminal not to indulge.