*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events I experienced firsthand; used with permission.
I dated a man who had a penchant for taking things that didn't belong to him. His habit of shoplifting got him arrested once. It got him fired twice. And it made me extremely angry more times than I can remember.
Of all the things he stole from me, his theft of my Ty Beanie Babies angered me the most. He returned them, but he damaged the tags first.
I had bought a pair of red-white-and-blue Ty Beanie Babies. Here's an Etsy listing asking $40K for the pair. I bought them in 2000 and placed them inside a glass case atop my bedroom television stand for safekeeping.
Although I planned to buy tag protectors to make sure they stayed pristine, I wasn't in any rush. I had protected them inside that glass cabinet, and they could wait there until I got around to adding tag protectors. Besides, it's not like there were any children with access to my bedroom. They were safe, or so I thought.
One day, I noticed they were missing. I called my boyfriend and asked him about them, but he said he didn't know what I was talking about. "What Beanie Babies?"
"How could you not know what I'm talking about?" I asked. "You were with me when I bought them."
No one else had access to them. I knew he was the culprit, but I couldn't get him to confess.
Several days later, I noticed a strange bulge in the lining of his winter jacket. It was exactly the right size to match the two pilfered Beanie Babies.
I unzipped the inner pocket and pulled out one red-white-and-blue elephant and one matching donkey. They were uninjured, but their Ty Beanie Babies tags were bent and broken from being squashed into my boyfriend's coat pocket.
I was furious. I may have carried on about the importance of Ty hang tags and how it's wrong to steal from one's girlfriend after everything she's done for you.
He seemed to get the message, but it wouldn't be the last time he'd steal something from me. It would just be the last time he allowed himself to get caught. We broke up seven years later for reasons that weren't related to his stealing.
I know little about Ty Beanie Babies. Only the rarest specimens seem to reach the highest values. Besides the $40K pair for sale on Etsy resembling mine, I found listings starting at just twelve bucks.
I'll never know for sure whether my pair would have sold for $12 or $40K. Every time I looked at them, I remembered the anger I felt when my boyfriend stole them and damaged their tags before I got them back, and I couldn't bear to look at them for another day.
After years of hating them and their badly damaged hang tags, I donated them to a charity drive. If they were worth anything, I hope the money went to charity.