Shoplifting is not a "crime". Shoplifting is stealing, or theft.
Shoplifting is not a crime, it is a euphemism for the word stealing or theft, and theft is a crime. I'm not sure why our culture allowed the word "theft" to be different for someone who steals from a store, but the effect has been to minimize its seriousness in the mind of the shoplifter, our society and, interestingly, the police. It would seem logical for someone who is shoplifting to minimize the seriousness of this crime by calling it "shoplifting", but for the police to be swayed to this way of thinking is no less sacrilegious than for an American citizen to allow the euphemism, "casualty of war" to replace the word "death", minimizing the sacrifices of our Veterans.
The same point can be made of the term "petty theft". Doesn't the word "petty" conjure up notions of insignificance, unimportance and irrelevance? It almost appears the police and our society have fallen victim to a very successful propaganda campaign intending to minimize the seriousness of theft from a store by calling it "shoplifting". Actually, if you take time to think about it, whether the item is stolen from a store, your employer, or, has great or small value, it is still stealing. It is also a statement about the shoplifters character.
I don't work for a store or retailer and I do not spend my time trying to show retailers how to better protect themselves from shoplifting with cameras, mirrors, electronic tags, security personnel, etc. I spend my time helping theft offenders think through their actions, attitudes, values and beliefs. Working with most people who steal is not all that difficult. What I have discovered through "THEFT TALK"T Counseling Service Inc. is that most theft offenders have relatively transparent thinking errors. For example, if you believed 2 + 3 equals 6 you would have a thinking error. Your thinking error would not readily be identified, (How often do you do math out loud or in front of someone, and, to take it even further, how many people are willing to confront you with your math error?). However, once this thinking error is identified, you would be quick to self correct.
There is also such a thing as a "cultural thinking error". One common cultural thinking error occurs when we minimize the impact of shoplifting by buying into the notion that if someone is "shoplifting", he must be a victim. Common cultural thinking errors are that theft offenders are victims of poverty, poor parenting, hunger, alcohol and drugs, ADHD, peer pressure, etc. The fact is, most people who steal from stores are none of the above and, all people who choose to steal from stores have options to stealing. Oh, kleptomania you say? Go to the "THEFT TALK"T main page and click on the "kleptomania" button. to learn how we view this issue.
"THEFT TALK"T is of the opinion that people who are shoplifting are not all that different from you and I. Simply stated, the primary differences include, 1) an overdose of selfishness, 2) a stronger than normal attraction to the forbidden, and 3) thinking errors you and I don't have, and, most of all, 4) they don't self punish the thought of stealing. This brief summary is a simplified explanation of how "THEFT TALK"T works with people who have been shoplifting. If you would like to learn more about "THEFT TALK"T visit our home page.
Steven Houseworth, MA
"THEFT TALK" Counselor Certification Program and/or our variety of training programs. On the other hand, if you are a parent or teacher and shoplifting or other forms of theft or stealing are of interest, you might be interested in Articles Written by "THEFT TALK", Parent/Teacher Advice and our shoplifting related Questions and Answers section. Either way please feel free to view all of the menu options outlined on our Home Page.
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