What Shoplifting Says About Us All


We want to be someone else. This, according to author Rachel Shteir, is why we shoplift.

I say "we," because of the dozens of people with whom I've discussed this topic over the years, only one or two insist they've never shoplifted. The number of reported shoplifters, according to the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention (NASP), make up 9% of the population. I'd argue that closer to 90% of us have, at least once or twice in our lives.

And as Shteir said in The New York Times Sunday, shoplifters often steal because of a vague sense of having been wronged or deprived throughout their lives. "In my observations, a lot of shoplifting seemed like it was an effort to transform into something else. Women shoplift cosmetics, men shoplift power tools. It seems to relate to some idealized view of yourself," Shteir told The New York Times.