celebrity shoplifting

Other than stealing our hearts, celebrities who are worth millions of dollars have been caught on camera shoplifting items worth less than $5. Otherwise known as non professional stealing, medical and security experts have carried several researches whose objective was to understand the rationale, if any, behind celebrity shoplifting. Why do the well to do have insatiable crave to steal, mostly items of very trivial value?

According to crime doctor estimates, shoplifting  costs stores about $33,000,000 annually. Similarly, the National Retail Security Survey put shoplifting losses at $12.1 billion in 2010, up from $11.7 billion in 2009 and from $10 billion in 2002 respectively. In order to combat, monitor and minimize shoplifting, stores spend millions installing and updating latest security gadgets such as CCTVs and also fund round-the-clock surveillance using paid private personnel.

Wealthy celebrities as Britney Spears, Megan Fox, Shelley Morrison, to name just a few, are on record to have shoplifted one time in their lifetime. Unfortunately, for many wealthy shoplifters, the urge could be overpowering and shoplifting could descend into worrisome life long habit.

Dr Will Cupchik, a leading Canadian based psychologist who’d studied and researched celebrity shoplifting behaviors for decades, helps us understand this social ill. He opined “”This is not typically about risk-taking – it’s not done just for the thrill of it,” similarly, results of decades-old research by NASP, website for national association for prevention of shoplifting revealed a disturbing find, a “direct correlation between depression and shoplifting.” In other words, celebrities steal, not because they lacked an item or couldn’t afford it but simply as a response to social and personal pressures in their life.

How is the crime of shoplifting established?

Besides observing the suspect or shoplifter approach the merchandise in question, shopkeeper must among other things, see the shoplifter select and remove the item and consequently exit the store without paying for the item.

In a related BBC article, Barbara Staib of the National Association For Shoplifting Prevention, explains “These are people who go into a store and the opportunity arises. For some reason they rationalise, they convince themselves that it’s OK – for that moment. This is maladaptive behaviour – a way of coping with things that are going on in those people’s lives.”

How widespread therefore is shoplifting?

Statistically, there are more than 27 million shoplifters on record which is a ratio of 1 shoplifter to 11 persons in the united states alone. Over 10 million persons have been caught in the act of shoplifting within the last five years. A 2004 research by the University of Florida discovered middle-aged adults shoplifted more than does children. The results showed that those between 35 and 54 shoplifted more than any other age-group.

Macy’s, one of America’s worst hit stores, at one time introduced internal procedure at resolving shop thefts by mandating shoplifters to pay a $500 fine. Interestingly, this practice is not without precedent. National Association for Shoplifting Prevention (NASP), confirms existing laws in all 50 states authorize merchants to seek civil restitution against suspected shoplifters. This way shops could recoup costs incurred in their efforts to protect stores from would-be thefts. As noted at beginning of article, such costs run into millions of dollars.

Worrall Thompson, celebrated UK chef and TV personality said of his shoplifting “I’ve been racking my brains to think why on earth did I do it and what was going through my mind at the time.” Worall Thompson had stolen such small value items as burger, onion and sandwich before getting caught. Thompson is not alone in being afflicted with burdens of guilt on being caught. American actress Winona Ryder shocked fans when she was arrested in 2001 for shoplifting at a Beverly Hills shop and was convicted of stealing thousands of dollars worth of designer clothes. Ryder had attributed her misdemeanor to painkillers prescribed by a quack. The painkillers left her in a state of “confusion”, she claimed.

Is celebrity shoplifting merely a case of Kleptomania?

While this may be true, equally possible is a harrowing reality these celebrities might be suffering from kleptomania, a psychiatric disorder where the sufferer experiences recurrent failure to resist urges to steal items that (they) generally don’t really need and that usually have little value.

A (celebrity) way of  garnering cheap publicity?

Not to overlook the craze for cheap publicity. Few things would generate publicity as when a wealthy and famous person steals items of negligible value they could afford a billion times over. Stars like Jayz, Beyonce Knowles and others have staged performances in the past purely targeted at generating publicity. Like rumors, celebrity shoplifting news could quickly generate massive publicity and could successfully re-shoot the star to limelight.

Although celebrities as Britney spears had gone on to successful rehabilitation, experts are of the opinion that knowledge of the disease could drive a self determination to stop and desist. There is little scientific research and not enough medical evidence to support using psychiatric medications to treat kleptomania. Currently, the FDA had not yet approved any medication. However, agencies like NASP continue to fight shoplifting and provide support and rehabilitation for repentant shoplifters.







PM Browne
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PM Browne

Ceo/Founder at Shopping News Today
PM Browne is chief executive, SNT. Before now Browne worked previously in such key marketing areas as advertising, order fulfillment officer for an online retail giant before setting out to develop Shopping News Today to cater for the online e-commerce information sector
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