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Ellen DeGeneres puts audience member in 'jail' for stealing

Anyone who watches the effervescent talk-show host should know by now: At any time, you might be on a hidden camera!
/ Source: TODAY

Hidden cameras are Ellen DeGeneres' stock in trade. So are "gotcha" moments. And anyone who considers themselves a fan of "Ellen" ought to know by now: At any moment, you might become part of the show!

That's what one audience member found out the hard way on a clip that aired last fall, but only now has made it online. DeGeneres had set up a table of free swag outside the studio with a sign that told visitors "one item per person."

And truthfully, DeGeneres' audience members were super-honest! One woman even put back a hat she wanted, saying she'd just buy it.

But there's always one. In this case, it was Nancy, a woman in a mustard-yellow top who came back more than once for different items — and even swapped out one extra item for a different item! When someone else called her out on it, she told them to "shut up."

Caught on The Ellen Shop's Hidden Camera!
Oh, Nancy, no!ellentube

The clip, which has now been viewed on YouTube over 5 million times, features DeGeneres complimenting her crowd for obeying the honor system. And then it shows her outing Nancy, who seemed a little less shamefaced than maybe we'd be, faced with being called a thief on national television. Nancy had an excuse: the extra item was for her sister, who couldn't make it.

"A lot of people's sisters couldn't come," said DeGeneres, smiling the whole time ... but, we sense, a little disappointed.

But she wasn't done: DeGeneres ordered Nancy into "Ellen Jail" — a seat on a high chair right on the stage.

Caught on The Ellen Shop's Hidden Camera!
Maybe "jail" has some benefits.ellentube

"Let that be a lesson to you," said DeGeneres. "You think nobody's watching you, and you just need to be a good person."

We bet she learned her lesson, for sure! So remember, folks: Big Sister (that is, Ellen) is watching you.

Follow Randee Dawn on Twitter.