A Man Steals $100 from a Shop: Try to Solve the Viral Riddle

The thief is on a shopping spree, but how much does the shop owner really lose? See if you can solve this vexing viral riddle.

What’s more satisfying than solving hard riddles? Maybe stumping friends with a few easy riddles or testing your smarts with logic puzzles. The truth is that riddles have been captivating the human imagination since the dawn of civilization, with some of the world’s most popular riddles dating back to the fifth century B.C. But there’s one recent riddle vexing the internet that could only be a product of the modern world, and we have the “A man steals $100 from a shop” riddle answer. Let’s have a look, shall we?

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“A man steals $100 from a shop” riddle

“A man steals a $100 bill from a shop. He then uses that $100 bill to buy $70 worth of goods. The shop owner hands him back $30 in change. How much money did the shop owner lose?”

What you’re thinking

Seeing all those numbers being bandied about, you might assume this seemingly short riddle requires some lengthier form of calculation. Indeed, the shop owner has lost $100 right off the bat, but they get that $100 bill back almost immediately.

Of the $100 stolen from him, the shopkeeper keeps only $70, handing back $30 to the thief. Because this transaction results in the shop owner ending up with $30 less in the cash register, you might be thinking that the answer is $30. Or is it the $70 in merchandise that the shopkeeper will have to replace?

Let’s not forget that when all is said and done, the thief walks away with $70 worth of goods. So you might be thinking that the shop owner is down the original $100 plus that $70 worth of goods, adding up to a total loss of $170. Or perhaps it’s that the shop owner is down the original $100 bill plus the $30 in change he handed over at the end? It could also certainly appear that the shop owner has lost a total of $200, which is the sum of the original $100 bill plus the $70 in merchandise and the $30 he handed to the thief as change.

Like all the best math riddles, the answer to this one is not what it seems. In fact, when you get right down to it, it might not even qualify as a math riddle. Or it might be the simplest math riddle ever.

The answer

What’s the “A man steals $100 from a shop” riddle answer? He has lost $100. It’s that simple. If a man walks into a shop, sidles over to the cash register and, unbeknownst to the shop owner, manages to extract a $100 bill, that’s precisely what the shop owner has lost. Yes, it’s a brain teaser, but there’s no actual math calculation required!

The explanation

While the thief goes on to take $70 worth of merchandise, he pays for it with an actual $100 bill, upon which the shop owner hands the thief back $30 in change. The thief has converted his $100 haul into $70 of merchandise and $30 in change, and that is precisely what the shop owner has lost.

To put it in the simplest of terms, if a man steals $100 from a shop, then that is exactly the amount he has stolen and exactly what the shop owner has lost. Whatever happens after that is nothing more than a bit of “shuffling about” of that same $100.

Tired of thinking about numbers at this point? Challenge yourself to one of these “what am I?” riddles.

Lauren Cahn
Lauren Cahn is a New York–based writer whose work has appeared regularly on Reader's Digest and in a variety of other publications since 2008. She covers life and style, popular culture, law, religion, health, fitness, yoga, entertaining and entertainment. Lauren is also an author of crime fiction, and her first full-length manuscript, "The Trust Game," was short-listed for the 2017 CLUE Award for emerging talent in the genre of suspense fiction.