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Hello everyone I am a non-native student of English. To improve my English I love reading books. Now I am reading a book "Second Hand" by Michael Zadoorian about a boy who owns a second hand store and there is a sentence which I absolutely don't understand. The boy has problems with shoplifters, expecially with a man who is trying to steal a Hawaiian shirt. The boy says:

I was almost tempted to let him get away with it because I admired the theme to his theft.

Here is the problem: I don't understand the meaning of "admire the theme to". What does this phrase mean?

Here is the larger context for this phrase:

The store is looking good these days. Too good. I am having more problems with shoplifters. Last week, I caught some accountant-looking cat trying to steal a Hawaiian shirt. I noticed this guy slip it into his jumbo recycled plastic bag after he bought a big tiki spoon and fork. I don't know if it was an impulse thing or some sort of experimental larceny or what, because he didn't really look like the type (for tiki or thievery), but I actually watched him rip me off. I was almost tempted to let him get away with it because I admired the theme to his theft

  • We'll need more context to do more than guess. Please quote a few sentences before the "I admired" sentence. – deadrat Jul 27 '15 at 17:40
  • The store is looking good these days. Too good. I am having more problems with shoplifters. Last week, I caught some accountant-looking cat trying to steal a Hawaiian shirt. I noticed this guy slip it into his jumbo recycled plastic bag after he bought a big tiki spoon and fork. I don't know if it was an impulse thing or some sort of experimental larceny or what, because he didn't really look like the type (for tiki or thievery), but I actually watched him rip me off. I was almost tempted to let him get away with it because I admired the theme to his theft – italiana Jul 27 '15 at 18:15
  • Hello Deadrat. Thank you very much foir trying to help me. Here you have the context – italiana Jul 27 '15 at 18:16
  • Sophia Loren with a tiki spoon and fork. :) google.com/… – TRomano Jul 27 '15 at 19:30
  • Hawaiian shirt, tiki.... notice any thematic similarities in the items that interested the shoplifter? – TRomano Jul 27 '15 at 19:31
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"Tiki" is the name for wooden carvings representing mythological figures of the peoples of eastern Polynesia, including the islands of Hawaii. So the thief bought some wooden utensils with a (presumably) Hawaiian motif, and then he tried to steal a Hawaiian shirt. (A Hawaiian or Aloha shirt is a short-sleeved, straight-hemmed, brightly-colored shirt printed with flowers, birds, or other Polynesian images). A "theme" is a readily-identifiable characteristic.

So the narrator is saying ironically that the thief had a theme (things Hawaiian) for his acquisitions and that he was using thievery for that purpose.

"Theme to" means "theme of" here, and it's a common locution, for example, when we're talking the characteristic melody of a composition, as in "the theme to Beethoven's Fifth Symphony."

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