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A subreddit dedicated to busting shoplifters (inputmag.com)
45 points by not-now 3 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 141 comments





The article strangely seems like it's framing the entire industry/profession of loss prevention in a negative light. Hopefully everyone realizes the more retail theft a store experiences, the higher prices become for those of us who pay... and the more likely a store is to shut down if theft becomes too prevalent.

I'm not here defending a subreddit I've never visited but in general, those in the loss prevention industry don't have the time or context to evaluate if a given shoplifter is or isn't deserving of intervention based on the shoplifter's circumstances. Loss prevention is there to prevent loss - not make moral judgements.


I live next to a grocery store with a high rate of theft and I couldn't agree more. The home goods section of the store has already closed due to theft. The freezers containing frozen seafood and frozen treats (ice cream) now have locks on them. Not to mention there is almost always a group of homeless folks gathered right outside the entrance which makes the area dangerous: my partner has personally been chased by a homeless person near the store.

I see folks making the argument, "property rights should not be above human life," and I get it, but grocery stores are not charities. Problems should be solved with real solutions rather than sacrificing businesses who are not equipped to solve the problem. In other words, if “property rights should not be above human life” then cities should provide for those lives through taxes and meal programs rather than letting random businesses be targets.


I have two stories around most policies.

My nephew works at home depot. He stepped in front of a shoplifters cart, and they demoted him.

I was picking up something at an Apple store in the mall. An Apple employee is helping me with some questions on adapters. A guy walks in right next to us and proceeds to start taking stuff and stuffing it in his shirt. I asked the Apple employee what is he going to do. He said nothing, it is store policy to not to get involved.


All I can think is that this must be the cheaper route for businesses, or they wouldn't do it that way.

> All I can think is that this must be the cheaper route for businesses, or they wouldn't do it that way

It might be for some businesses in some jurisdictions but that's not true at global scale. There's just not enough margin in retail to cover losses that way.

(Full disclosure: I'm currently working with a client on a loss prevention project, big retail stores are the customers)


Thinking from a systems perspective. Does hiring individual loss prevention officers actually move the needle on a broader perspective? Law enforcement isn't prevalent enough to make an impact. We can't just let shoplifting run rampant. I found this hbr article that's pretty high level discussion of operational excellence:

https://hbr.org/2007/11/lessons-from-the-leaders-of-retail-l...

Also, is snatch and grab the most prevalent type of shoplifting? I found some articles mentioned fradulent returns and failing to ring someone up.


> Loss prevention is there to prevent loss - not make moral judgements.

So that's just the way it is and it will never change? Maybe we should have less jobs where someone is authorized to use violent force and can check their morals at the door.


I have no idea why you were downvoted for this.

“Loss prevention” is just private security and it’s definitely problematic. Through profiling it reinforces racism and classism. Can you imagine how unpleasant it must be to be treated with suspicion every time you walk into a Target?

I think retailers could absolutely develop more compassionate ways of preventing things from being stolen, but why would they? There’s no incentive.


> “Loss prevention” is just private security and it’s definitely problematic. Through profiling it reinforces racism and classism.

(Full disclosure: I'm currently working with a client on a loss prevention project, big retail stores are the customers)

I've got a CCTV video in front of me right now showing a retail store being robbed late at night, a guy wearing a hoodie broke into the store, violently attacked three checkouts, and left with an estimated three figure cash payday, in approximately three minutes. The physical damage done to the store done during the attack, and lost revenue when the store was closed the following days for repairs, far exceeded the value of the cash the attacker escaped with.

Loss prevention is about stopping the bad guys from stealing your stuff (whether that's goods or cash).

I've no idea why one would think profiling (or racism) should have anything to do with this?


Yet… 2/3 of black people have reported to being treated with suspicion in a retail setting.

What’s the disconnect? You, someone who ostensibly works in the loss prevention industry claim that racism is not a factor; but black people, as polled by Gallup, don’t seem to agree.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jun/24/shoppi...


I'm historically a very liberal San Francisco resident. But I'm finding it really hard to understand the amount of shoplifting going on at my local Walgreens (Mission and 30th). I visit the Walgreens about once a week mostly for diapers and covid test kits. I go at various times of day. About 1 in 4 times I'm there I've witnessed shoplifting. Mostly groups of teens and, in my uninformed assessment, not struggling financially. They seem to be doing it for the thrill. Like a sport. It is dystopian. So much of the store's products are locked up now. About half the time there is a security guard at the door. But that doesn't deter these adolescence. A man in the line in-front of me was trying to explain to his young daughter what just happened when four teens bolted from the store laughing and giving the staff rude gestures. It wasn't dangerous but it was frightening to the child. He chatted to the checkout person that he conveyed his apologies to the staff. The checkout person vented some frustration and said it was at least hourly.

I understand that Walgreens have closed at least 10 stores in San Francisco in a couple of years due to "Organized Retail Crime"


I know teenagers prosecuted, fined (minimally) and sent to do social services for like palming a lipstick and caught on camera. They'd think twice before doing it again for fun. But yeah this is Switzerland not USA.

> not struggling financially.

well if they fence stolen goods, then it's pure profit. They aren't shoplifting because they are in need for diapers, as you mentioned. They fence it on ebay, which makes ebay an co accessory to theft, but hey, they're just "a platform"...

And since many cities like San Fransisco have(or had) DA that don't prosecute theft under a certain amount because "critical theory", zero risks...


>They seem to be doing it for the thrill. Like a sport.

I will admit that I sometimes steal candy/snacks from convenience stores for this exact reason. There is a very real thrill involved in getting away with something, and I've (mostly jokingly) considered going to SF just to steal things from convenience stores.

It really seems like a no brainer why this is happening more often. If, as a child, your parents said "we are no longer going to punish you for doing the thing that we told you not to do," wouldn't you start doing that thing more again? I get that wealth inequality is bad and I get that our criminal justice system can be horrific, but so many people seem to automatically assume that all this theft is only people stealing to feed/clothe/house themselves and/or their children. Has no one else ever just stolen stuff for the fun of it?


> Has no one else ever just stolen stuff for the fun of it?

I'm sure they have, but not me. It's definitely against my moral code and, as such, is not fun no matter how easy it hard it is.


> I will admit that I sometimes steal candy/snacks from convenience stores for this exact reason.

If you can't stop doing this, please at least don't do this at mom and pop places.


Article kind of bums me out.

One loss prevention officer says:

> He finds the environment of loss prevention thrilling and takes pride in the training he’s received to track down and apprehend shoplifters. “That’s a huge adrenaline rush,” he says. “I think that’s a major factor in why people are in this field.”

But also says:

> “I don’t do this because I think shoplifting is wrong,” he says. “If I’m perfectly honest, I could not care less about that. I just do my job.”

Power is a hell of a drug.

Obviously these officers exercise discretion, because shoplifting happens all day long. Many stores build cases for repeat offenders before attempting to confront them. It's an interesting and complex issue, and one I'm glad I don't have to deal with 8 hours a day.


One of the best teachers I had in college was a criminal justice counselor. And the job of criminal justice counseling isn't like other jobs in psychology, sure some of your job is to help the convicts, but a lot of the convicts don't want help or are actively hostile to your help, but part of your job is to help the state. Either way someone in the class asked how he can do the job if "helping people" wasn't more core to the work. And the response was that he liked the act of the work.

Summary is, It changed how I see work, because I think the happiest people and probably to some extent the best employees are the ones that are there because they enjoy the day to day, and not as much for the meaning they get out of it. (Obviously exceptions apply)


See Daniel Pink on autonomy, mastery and purpose.

I don't see the problem as long as it's directed toward a prosocial aim.

Yeah if a doctor said “I don’t really care about my patients’ lives. I just like the power of being able to prevent death”

I really think that’s perfectly fine


That would be fine, but what if it is a slightly different "I don’t really care about my patients’ lives. I just like the power of having a hand in whether people live or die."? Doesn't that start to sound a little questionable?

As Dan says "The goal is to protect the business — not to ruin people’s lives." Is Alex getting that "huge adrenaline rush" from protecting Walmart's property? Or is he getting that adrenaline from having power over people? Because his desire "to move back to the field side, where we actually deal with people" seems to imply that it is the power over people that he craves and not the loss prevention.


Not to me. I don't trust peoples' self assessment of their own motivations or goals. Typically they paint themselves in some sort of distorted light and it really has no effect on their actual outcomes or deliverables.

Also, I can't think of a 'better' answer to that question really.

> I just do this to pay the bills

Okay, so he doesn't care at all what happened to me

> I really care about saving peoples' lives

Yeah, that's what I would say if I were an evil guy

All I would really care about is their surgery success rate and track record.


If they prevent my death, I don't care why.

I would surmise you do care if the doctor lopped off a limb when a couple rounds of antibiotics would have worked.

Motive is tied to the means, not just the ends.


Psychopaths are overrepresented in surgery/EMT work if I'm not mistaken, for better or worse.

That would account for "Stephen Strange" types who take on challenging surgeries just to prove they can do it and deserve their posh surgeon salary.

So many surgeons with god complexes

Who and what is defined as prosocial has a long and sordid past and history of death and misery.

as with most important things

So busting people who are shoplifting items that they either need to survive or items that they can sell to survive to say, pay rent, because our capitalist system has shit on them and left them with no options

That prosocial goal?


Ever been in a store dealing with significant amounts of shoplifting, such as basically all chain stores in San Francisco these days? The more the shoplifting, the more stuff ends up behind locked cabinets. In some stores it's so bad even candy is locked up.

Now consider what happens when convenience stores stop being convenient. People with money stop patronizing them. They reduce their stock of items. They close. And now people, including poor people, no longer have a convenient place to shop.

Everybody has options. Shoplifting is very rarely, if ever, the best option available to someone on the ropes. It's just often the more convenient option, until it stops being convenient for them and everybody else.


I once saw a guy stealing a Moleskine notebook. Maybe that notebook can be resold, and he uses the money to pay rent?

Or more likely, he uses it to buy drugs.

So preventing the shoplifting might just save his life from a drug overdose.

It's hard to say that stealing is clearly right in almost any scenario. It's almost always anti-social.


What's the law called where you can't tell if someone is being sarcastic or actually thinks the ridiculous things they say aloud?

"Stopping someone from stealing a notebook prevented a drug overdose death".

I hope you and folks like you realize that encountering rhetoric like yours only reinforces the thought that some people are just really out to feel like they have power over others, and some folks are capable of amazing gymnastics to support the cruelty of most Western capital societies rather than confront the notion that maybe you have no god damn idea why someone was stealing a notebook and maybe just maybe it doesn't fucking matter even a tiny little bit.


It's Poe's law.

Keep in mind the people who will actively post on that subreddit are the people who view loss prevention as something more than just a day job, so I wouldn't view it as representative of the profession. And like every subreddit, it's safe to assume it's 90% fiction and content written to maximize outrage

> Power is a hell of a drug.

I wouldn't necessarily attribute that statement to a power trip. There is joy in doing a job well.


> As of April 2022, over 134,000 loss prevention officers — many of them white men — were employed in the U.S.

What is the purpose of mentioning the "white men" part?


The article clearly has a slant.

I also think it links to how most loss prevention officers have a decide to go into law enforcement.


I think you know why given Input's political leaning...

It's intersectional dog whistle.

A more bizarre matter is why the heck would reddit host subs dedicated to shoplifting tactics... although I'm just half surprised, given the kind of depraved porn communities reddit welcomes...


Because now apparently just admitting that you are against having and enforcing shoplifting laws means that you can be accused of being racist if you are white.

I was a little confused by it as well and thought maybe they would go to imply there are racial injustices later in the article but I didn't really see that.

Loss Prevention Demographics - https://www.zippia.com/loss-prevention-officer-jobs/demograp... 70% White, 13.7% Hispanic, 8.4% Black

US Demographics - 57.8% White, 18.7% Hispanic, 12.1% Black

It's a poor choice of words.


Yeah I clicked the link as well, and I disagree with your conclusion. I poked around the rest of the site, and I am pretty sure they included that because their audience likes to read about why white people are bad.

Would it just be a poor choice of words if they included stats on the people who shoplift, and it included "many of them black teens"?


Is the "white men" phrase relevant or needed in the article? No.

I'm not really familiar with the site nor the author's agenda but doing a search for "white" and "black" mostly brought up articles on consumer products.


>thought maybe they would go to imply there are racial injustices later in the article

They did imply it by mentioning that white people are overrepresented in the field. Retail security following Black people around a store is one of the more common forms of everyday profiling and racism. Is this not common knowledge anymore?


Why not include that in the article then?

They probably thought this type of profiling was common knowledge. I would also have assumed most people knew about it. And once you know about it, the connection is easy to make yourself without the article needing to be explicit about it.

> “A LOT of people are like, ‘How, MORALLY, can you do this job?"

I only know of one or two people in my entire life that think that preventing theft immoral. "A LOT" is there to mislead readers into thinking there is a moral dilemma around loss prevention.

There is no moral dilemma. Not stealing is the most basic rule of society.


Unfortunately there is now a large section of the population that disagrees.

Theft not only takes resources away from the person stolen from, but increases costs across society as security has to be implemented. It is a negative externality.

I don’t understand the other side as presented.


Here is a video essay that argues from the other side with little to no equivocation. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aGB7QnOZj3g

Framing rampant shoplifting as some sort of justified Robin Hood claw back from the evil corporations based on economic inequality is, in my opinion, baloney.

I was homeless for several years. I can tell you from experience that few homeless folk shoplift, it's just not worth the risk and hassle. The simple truth is that there is lots of food to eat here in America. You have to actually work really hard to starve. Food banks, churches and other charity orgs, etc. it's literally hard to go hungry here. You know who hates thieves? Homeless people living outside where their stuff is constantly vulnerable to theft.

Mass shoplifting is mostly thrill-seeking kids and small organized crime rings. (Go check your local police blotter.)


>“That’s a huge adrenaline rush,” he says. “I think that’s a major factor in why people are in this field.”

This should be a huge red flag that should preclude someone from working in the industry.

As Dan says later in the article:

>“They’re more concerned with punishing and catching, and they see asset protection as a game,” adds Dan, who requested that Input give him an alias. “I don’t think it’s healthy to have those people in the industry. So, when I see that, I try to challenge that. The goal is to protect the business — not to ruin people’s lives.”

People who go into law enforcement or security should not be doing it because they get a kick out of catching and punishing people. Because if all they care about it that kick, they are more likely to abuse their power to get that kick regardless of whether the people on the other end deserve to be caught or punished.


Yeah, I'm certain there are folks who get off on the power trip and just love seeing people punished. Those are the kinds of people you want to keep an eye on or keep out of those positions.

I don't have a problem with seeing it as a game and enjoying that part of the job though. Security work is just like that in general. You'll always have someone constantly probing your defenses and modifying their tactics and if you got rid of everyone who thought it was fun to deal with that you wouldn't have anyone left willing to do the job.

I also think loss prevention in general has a potential to be really depressing. Sometimes you're just dealing with kids and thrill seekers, but other times you're having to deal with people who are genuinely desperate with limited ability to get the things they need for health and survival. There must be, at least to some degree, a tendency to dehumanize the people who are caught to protect the mental health and self-concept of the people working in that field. Nobody wants to be the bad guy and when you've repeatedly had people arrested for trying to get food or medication for themselves or their children it must make you question if you're doing the right thing. Defending stores from theft isn't wrong or immoral, but after repeatedly protecting Walmart, which has hundreds of billions of dollars, against impoverished and humiliated mothers who hate themselves and what they're doing, but are just trying to get diapers for their babies has to make you question that. It must make it harder to keep compassionate people around.


It might be a red flag. But that can't be some roadblock to entering the industry.

People get into careers for all sorts of reasons. A paycheck. The thrill of succeeding at their job. The thrill of being the best in the business.

You can't just exclude those people from that career and focus on people "the goals of the business". Personal goals are better drivers to excellence than business goals.


The problem is when their personal goals conflict with both the business's and society's goals. Think of it like a manager who announces "I love bossing people around, that is why I'm in the industry." Sure, that is part of the job, a person in that role shouldn't have an issue with it, but someone who says that is the reason they are doing the job is directly telling you they are unfit for the job.

The business's goal is to minimize theft of their products. Society's goal is to prevent theft. It seems like those goals are in alignment with someone in loss prevention who enjoys the thrill of successfully catching shoplifters.

I don't see this as any different from people who work red team in infosec and get a thrill from getting root on a box, or those who are blue team and the highlight of their week is catching an intrusion attempt. Some people just thrive in that sort of competitive environment.


>The business's goal is to minimize theft of their products. Society's goal is to prevent theft. It seems like those goals are in alignment with someone in loss prevention who enjoys the thrill of successfully catching shoplifters.

"Minimizing theft" is not the same thing as "catching shoplifters". An ideal security job from the perspective of the business/society is boring. An ideal security job from the perspective of an adrenaline seeker is exciting. This conflicting incentives can lead to that security person creating excitement in situations where none should exist.


> regardless of whether the people on the other end deserve to be caught or punished

Confused by the choice of words, those seem to be two different things

If you act there are real world consequences for your actions

Run a red light and the camera will catch you - it should not punish you - but it records the event


People can be innocent. A security person isn't an impartial judge of guilt.

You shouldn't have a job because you enjoy doing exactly what the job needs you to do, and so may start overdoing it?

Overdoing it means you're doing your job badly, so yea that's exactly it

I agree that overdoing it is bad. I disagree that people shouldn't have jobs they enjoy just because you think that might make them overdo it.

What's that saying about politicians and those who want power?

Give power to the ones who don't want it because they'll be the best arbiter. They won't chase power for the sake of power

Maybe we should do the same thing for cops/security. Those who are likely to commit abuses should never be given the chance


> As of April 2022, over 134,000 loss prevention officers — many of them white men — were employed in the U.S.

Why specify race and sex?


There's a subset of the population that assesses crime not based upon legality/illegality or morality/immorality or because it has overarching effects on society, but by fitting it into a shallow "just universe"/"unjust universe" paradigm. So the homeless guy steals the candy bar, and the article implies he should not be prevented from doing so because... Well, the world screwed him over, and a free snack is a minor adjustment to all the problems he's faced. Something like that?

It's a kindergartner's level of moral thinking combined with Karmic mysticism, equally juvenile.

But if you base law enforcement around that, I promise you that neighborhood will be one of those "food deserts" you've heard about. Which the same people will then complain about.


There also used to a couple subreddits for shoplifters with tips and stories about people's experiences with store security (justified or not). It was interesting being subscribed to both the loss prevention subreddit and those other spaces, but sadly reddit banned them. I'm guessing that the ban only made it harder for people working in loss prevention by making it more difficult to monitor those kinds of discussions. Once again, if you're hoping to fight something its so much better to keep it in the light where you can observe it.

> The National Retail Federation has estimated $30 billion in economic loss...

Well, it also depends upon the side of your point of view. Doesn't it?


What I find amazing is that some retail operators apparently expect low-wage workers making like $12/hour to physically accost shoplifters or try to detain them at the exit door, at risk of getting punched in the face, bear sprayed, shot, stabbed, etc.

They're not getting paid anywhere near enough for that level of risk.


Who expects that? Don't most retailers explicitly tell their employees not to try to stop shoplifters?

Yes, indeed they do put that in writing in their employee documentation, for their legal protection, and then the actual floor managers tell them to do the opposite verbally.

It's because even the direct costs like worker's comp are much worse than a bit of shrink. Employees getting hurt is extremely expensive in the US. Incentive structures often just aren't aligned; the person who cares about those costs is higher up.

https://injuryfacts.nsc.org/work/costs/workers-compensation-...


Nobody I know who has worked retail has ever told stories (and they all have tons of stories to tell) about their managers expecting them to stop shoplifters. They do, however, talk about how common shoplifting is and how their managers just tell them to either do nothing or to contact whatever the local security is for their store.

Back when I ran a checkout register my manager was super clear that I should give anyone whatever they wanted so long as I reported it after the fact, and that my safety was more important than any items in the store. My uncle even got fired for running down a shoplifter, the policy around here was very clear - let the cops handle it.

Do the cops do anything though?

you mean does State Farm do anything?

> “A lot of people are like, ‘How, morally, can you do this job?’”

How did people's moral compasses get so corrupt that instead of believing stealing is immoral, they believe that stopping other people from stealing is immoral?


I think that for some people, a lifetime of watching morally bankrupt corporations post record profits while your wages remains stagnant (made even more painful by inflation) can make it easy to fall in to the "If they can do it why can't I" trap.

Ah the syllogism of thieves perverse projection: I want it. You have it. Therefore stealing it "back" is justified.

Corporations have been looting america for decades but everyone gets their panties in a bunch when one of their victims loots one of the corporate stores so they can survive

Corporations don't care that much: they can just pass the costs on to us, so we are the ones who are ultimately being looted.

I'm not saying shoplifting is moral, but to play devil's advocate here:

Walmart, to take one example, is one of the top employers of medicaid and food stamp recipients (https://www.cnbc.com/2020/11/19/walmart-and-mcdonalds-among-...), essentially forcing the government to make up the gap from the incredibly low wages that they pay their employees and enabling them, in turn, to make more profits. Is that stealing from the government / other taxpayers? If you felt that way, you probably wouldn't see much harm in stealing a couple of bucks worth of stuff back out of Walmart's deep, deep pockets.

Anyway, I think that's just one example of why people may feel differently about stealing from an individual versus stealing from a massive, faceless, profitable corporation.


The full quote:

> Although McLeod enjoys his job, he knows it’s one that’s frowned upon by many. “A lot of people see that a homeless person got arrested for stealing a candy bar. They’re hungry, right?” he says. “A lot of people are like, ‘How, morally, can you do this job?’”

I still think this is a perfectly moral (and important!) job. And it's the role of our justice system to define what punishments should be when folks are caught. But the context of the quote does change when you see he was talking about a situation where a homeless person takes a single candy bar. The "man steals a loaf of bread to feed his starving family" thing is a pretty classic ethical dilemma.


> The "man steals a loaf of bread to feed his starving family" thing is a pretty classic ethical dilemma.

But that's also an insignificant fraction of shoplifting cases. Changing our overall policy based on it would be like legalizing running red lights because once in a while people are rushing someone to the hospital.


It's related to 100% of the quotes I was responding to, however.

It is also solved in theory via neccesity defense although not universal in practice. The real world is full of wrinkles.

They believe that a business having resources that they don't is itself the immorality. They want any equalization of property between the rich and not-rich. There are plenty of comments justifying such stealing even here alongside this one.

shoplifting absolute necessities and life essentials is a morally light grey area. it's stealing, but when the alternative is starvation, there's a bit of leeway.

for everything else, it becomes this twisted worldview where shoplifters believe they're owed something by "the system." or because it's walmart/target instead of mom and pop's corner shop, it's like they're the modern day robin hood. the ability of our brains to think themselves into defending its own behavior, as immoral as it may be, is fascinating.


They absolutely should feel they are owed something by the system. America (for example) has built amazing wealth extremely quickly using capitalism, but the distribution is terrible. It is totally fine for the very poor to steal from the very wealthy in a system that makes it extremely difficult, tedious, or tiring for many people to even live a comfortable life legally

Because these people aren't stealing a Ferrari for a joyride, they're stealing things like diapers and laundry detergent... sometimes for personal use, but often to resell to other poor people to fuel a drug addiction.

These are people who live in poverty. Their lives are so bad that punishment is near meaningless.


Stealing a piece of inventory from a major corporation is not morally the same as stealing from another person. [Popular company] probably accidentally loses tonnes of [popular product] a week. They have easily enough money to cover that loss, money that isn't being redistributed to the people who feel they should/want to/have to shoplift. So yeah, it's pretty clear to me that for major shops, stopping people from stealing is more immoral than stealing.

Excessive wealth inequality and weak welfare state.

Copying my other comment here. There definitely is a moral issue

>busting people who are shoplifting items that they either need to survive or items that they can sell to survive to say, pay rent, because our capitalist system has shit on them and left them with no options

Property rights should not be above human life. Full stop.


I live next to a grocery store with a high rate of shoplifting and I disagree. Grocery stores are not charity. The issue has gotten so bad that freezers containing frozen sea food and ice cream now have locks on them.

Problems should be solved with real solutions rather than sacrificing businesses who are not equipped to solve the problem. In other words, if “property rights should not be above human life” then cities should provide for those lives through taxes and meal programs rather than letting random businesses be targets.


> then cities should provide for those lives through taxes and meal programs rather than letting random businesses be targets.

I agree, but America as a nation isn't really big on social safety nets.


In my opinion, America not being okay with social safety nets is not equivalent to shop lifting being okay. It seems to me either:

* Americans care about shoplifting but not social safety nets and it would mean that society has implicitly decided that some shoplifting folks may not get the support they need.

* Americans care about shoplifting and social safety nets enough to force political change.

I think what doesn't seem okay to me is to say, "Americans care about shoplifting but not social safety nets... but we are going to make an end run around what society thinks and allow shoplifting as a solution to the social safety net problem".


A lot of it is just to buy booze and drugs in cities where the social services are decent (food is easy to get, shelter is available if are somewhat sober), but those two things are not provided, and many see it as a survival need.

It is also much more organized now: rackets have a list of stuff to steal that they can then pawn off more easily. That is why LEGOs and laundry detergent are increasingly locked up.


Yea let's just shit on the people who are at their lowest point in our society and not let them have comforts such as alcohol that the rich enjoy on a daily basis. The existence of people in poverty is absolutely fucking horrible compared to what most experience in the US and other OECD nations

> at their lowest point in our society and not let them have comforts such as alcohol that the rich enjoy on a daily basis.

A lot of them are in the position they are in now due to drugs and booze. Let's not conflate those homeless for economic reasons with the ones that just burned all their bridges via substance abuse.

> absolutely fucking horrible compared to what most experience in the US and other OECD nations

I used to live in Switzerland and the cops were pretty rough on the local drunks as well. They got a place to sleep at night, but were spared no quarter on everything else.


>A lot of them are in the position they are in now due to drugs and booze

Quite simply this is false. Mental health issues generally lead to addiction, in nearly all cases its a dual diagnosis situation with mental health issues and substance abuse which is usually due to the mental health issues. These people are just trying to cope with their daily existence and all the rich people are constantly shitting on them, telling them to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and hiring lobbyists and think-tanks to write legislation to shit on them more. We spend so much money on stupid programs instead of just giving people fking places to live its insane in the US

>They got a place to sleep at night

That's the big difference. Austria also has great public housing


There are many paths to addiction for sure. But a medical condition isn't the only path, or even the common one; just making a lot of bad choices can get you there also.

However once they get there, they have little desire to not be there. How can you get someone off drugs if they aren't interested in getting off drugs? And not only that, decriminalization has made it very easy to get drugs and has made your city the go to place in the region if you want to do drugs? Even assuming all of the addicts deserve to be cured, how do you do that without cooperation? We can spend tons of money on them for sure, but it seems just be a pork and jobs program for a few organizations rather than doing anything that is effective.


Decriminalization and full legalization is what we need to combat the drug problem. Essentially all of the harm comes from prohibition not the drugs themselves, I'm saying this as a neuropharmacologist. That's one of the super shitty policies that we love in the US

> Decriminalization and full legalization is what we need to combat the drug problem.

Do you mean the problem will solve itself naturally if we let them do all the drugs they want? Yes, that's true, but it is a very morbid way of going about solving the problem.


No, it removes the extra harm created by our bad policies such as a lack of regulation leading to a fentanyl tainted supply of heroin

We can still age restrict like we do with alcohol, we could even implement a licensing system where, similar to driving, education requirements must be met in order to purchase a given substance. There are many different things we can do, and nearly all of them are better than our current system

Not to mention I'm only discussing the effect on direct users, our foreign policy concerning substance legality in other could tries has absolutely wreaked havoc. Not only through our treaties with European countries but especially south america

In the US anyone can already drink as much alcohol as they want, smoke as many cigarettes. Both of those have immensely harmful health implications, generally worse than other drugs such as cannabis, MDMA, LSD, or even heroin. Heroin won't give you cancer, neither will LSD and no, the short term effects of those drugs do not make them worse, that's a load of shit spread by incorrect government propaganda

There is evidence from multiple countries now that supplying people who have a current addiction with clean, high quality drugs and gives them a safe environment to use reduces deaths, new addictions, and harm overall. Yet here we are, throwing people with problems in jail like that's somehow sensible. Its not, not even close. The way the US treats people with issues is absolutely disgusting


Generally can lead to*

> Property rights should not be above human life. Full stop.

Sure, if someone's bleeding out on the street, and you grab a tourniquet from a nearby drugstore and run out without paying for it, you should get a pass. But I think cases like that make up approximately 0% of shoplifting. Most of the times people say that shoplifting is necessary to survive, it's not actually true.


That's an extraordinarily short sighted view of the needs of a living human

Yes only things that can happen to kill someone within like 60 seconds are what should trump the property rights of the capital owners that have been looting the country and take advantage of the dire straights of the poor working class. Awesome


If you think the average shoplifter is like Jean Valjean stealing a loaf of bread, you're deeply out of touch with reality

I'll let the other commenters do the debunking of this extremely stupid point you made - just want to point out that this is so clearly some shitty troll account. 5 months old and all the comments are idiotic crap like this.

I dislike that kind of attitude towards the poor, it's infantilizing and strips people of their agency, it's like the modern "noble savage", just some others who are pure of heart and can only be corrupted by the evil influence of the system.

I've been dirt poor, I've been homeless, I've been alone in a foreign country with no one to turn to, I've lived in such shit places that my neighbour got shot down with an AK not 100 meters from my doorstep ... in Europe. I still didn't steal.

There are systemic issues which keep people down, that doesn't excuse immoral and illegal behaviour. I've known a lot of criminals, they're by and large scumbags, not some modern robinhoods stealing for the sake of their family because of capitalism.


People and businesses should be allowed to protect their possessions and discourage theft. People who steal should be punished if they’re caught.

What country are we talking about. In the US nobody needs to steal to survive. The homeless don't even need to steal to survive.

What country are /you/ talking about? In my city, there are homeless people living in tents under every overpass, in every empty lot, parking lots, tennis courts, in broken down cars, etc. You think these people have trust funds?

No, but they have food in the cities they decide to camp in, which are selected due to weather, social services (e.g. calling Seattle as "Freattle"), and lax enforcement of camping rules.

I see the exact opposite of these claims.

You mean, homeless people choose to shelter in cities with bad weather, poor social services, and places where the police aggressively crack down on encampments?

I once took a greyhound bus across country. From Mississippi all the way to LA, the bus would stop at each prison, pick people up..they were all going to one place (LA), many of them for the first time. They had nowhere else to go, an open bus ticket, and knowledge that they could survive in LA.

These days, Portland and Seattle are increasingly popular places, not just sunny California.


You are actually proving their point by noting the plethora of homeless people who are surviving

"surviving" in slums of filth and crime while likely costing taxpayers more than homing them would (not to mention the high prevalence of mental illness among the homeless)

it's just outright idiotic policy to accept the current state of homelessness in many major cities, it's inhumane AND expensive


I generally agree with the second part of your comment, but it is still true that homeless people survive fine, their quality of life is just usually bad. This is very different from starving to death and needing to shoplift

It's a little more indirect than you're presenting, but it is still a fraught situation where people have significantly shorter lifespans. Starvation is unusual, but murder, exposure, overdose, and withdrawal are common. A lot of these people shoplift to keep up a physical addiction that they can not easily or safely move on from.

How can letting people shoplift stop them from getting murdered? Also, I wonder how many people die of overdose who would have survived if they had less money to buy drugs with, versus how many people die of withdrawal who would have survived if they had more money to buy drugs with.

letting people shoplift doesn’t make it better, but arresting them doesn’t either (often worse)… it’s just the symptom of a greater problem

More people steal to "survive" that you probably realize. In my experience with lower income college graduates (arts degrees, for instance), the question of where to go to steal food for the day is a common discussion point. Could they survive by going to food banks instead? Probably. Or by taking any other job. But stealing is easier, less "degrading", and more inline with their career goals.

That said, the system works. Some people get small personal servings for free; others pay extra for their full family's meal so the store can make up for the breakage. It's that same terraced pricing structure every SASS loves.


On the other hand: this approach may act to disguise some of the distress that people are actually living under so that society thinks things are less bad than they are - and so less inclined to fix the problem in the "civilized" way: by welfare schemes that guarantees a minimum of dignity and daily needs

so if I just do drugs and I take your property to survive, that's okay? if I decide not to work, I can just go to any grocery stores to steal?

they need to survive by stealing is a failure of the system that is in place, either education or the social support system. Accommodating for the system's failures by giving up property rights is a defeatist take at best, virtue signaling at worst.


Is it OK to bust middle-class shoplifters, such as a number of my high school and college acquaintances?

Not really, no, why do we think the legal system is the solution to every problem. Besides the fact are they even doing all that good a job at this?

Huh? In my city, shoplifters can walk out with 70 inch TVs while the police watch them do it (shop lifting is decriminalized). Everyone who isn't a shoplifter is pretty pissed off about it, I think the police are there to prevent mob justice from happening.

it's a sad state of affairs when the shoplifters make more than loss prevention.

You're assuming a) that they're shoplifting items needed to survive, and b) that there were no other, legal, sources of the items they needed (food banks, ebt, welfare, etc.) that they could have chosen to make use of instead. Of course the fact that you chose to insert some political anti-capitalist quip nonsense shows that you're not really interested in arguing from good faith and instead mostly just want to further your propaganda.

r/LossPrevention

Remember, if you see someone stealing food, no you didn't. Shoplifting is a systemic issue, hiring rent-a-cops to crack down on poor people is looking at the problem from the wrong end. Challenge the elites. Build a better system.

The issue is that idea that people are just desperate and stealing food is not accurate and used as cover for stealing everything with little consequence.

In this thread: Wealthy tech bros who were never desperate or courageous enough to shoplift a thing in their lives. That describes me as well, but at least I have the decency to be self aware about it.

I agree with most of what this video has to say.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aGB7QnOZj3g

If you are so passionate about stopping theft because it's wrong, then you should be focusing your energy on stopping wage theft and white collar crime which is orders of magnitude more damaging to our economy and society than shoplifting could ever be.

The only case where I would support a larger effort to crack down on shoplifting is when it is organized. The majority of shoplifting cases are just individuals doing it for their own reasons. But occasionally, including recently, there have been cases of organized shoplifting rings. That's a big enough crime that it's worth going after.


Since we count not paying wages as theft, why don't we count not paying your rent, car loan, or credit card bill as theft too?

I don't think 'wage theft' means what you think it means.

I think it means your employer not paying you all of the wages that it owes you. What does it actually mean?

A lot more nuanced than that. It includes what you're saying, of course. But it also adds misclassification of employees as contractors, illegal deductions, not granting or paying time off that is agreed upon, manipulating work hour tracking, refusing to grant agreed upon benefits, management/owners participating in tip pooling, etc.. It does ultimately lead to losses on the part of the employee, but comparing 'wage theft' with not paying rent is not just a bad faith argument, it's actually an uninformed ignorant argument.

It's really interesting to me at how sensitive Americans (in particular) seem to be when it comes to property damage or theft while being completely uncaring when it comes to people starving, getting bombed, getting shot, living with violence, being literally killed by our health care system (eg insulin), dying in the streets or people being denied life-chaning or life-saving medical care.

I don't support stealing but there are different kinds of stealing. There's a difference between stealing cars and stealing diapers and baby formula.

Property crime (and many otehr kinds of crime) are a symptom of extreme poverty and wealth inequality.

Policing here isn't the answer. Nor is incarceration. If it was, the US would be the safest place on Earth since it has the highest rate of incarceration in the world (4% of the population, 25% of the world's prisoners).

At some point you have to realize this issue will only be dealt with by addressing the underlying material conditions of the nation's poorest and most vulnerable. The link between poverty and crime has been known for thousands of years yet Americans in particularly doggedly refuse to acknowledge this.


If people were stealing diapers and baby formula because their own kids needed them, that would be one thing. But in practice, it's to fence them and then use the proceeds to buy drugs.

> It's really interesting to me at how sensitive Americans (in particular) seem to be when it comes to property damage or theft while being completely uncaring

We like 'stuff' in general and we love our 'stuff' in particular. Property is very big around here.

Also, not to excuse shoplifters but wage theft is a way WAY bigger issue in America than petty theft. But it gets less visibility, it's less visible in general, doesn't make for good TV, doesn't have that 'dystopian I need to buy more ammo' vibe and it can't really be used as a political wedge issue. We made this!

Also, to add the the general thread, I couldn't give two shits about this. We have a heavily militarized police force that looks like it's about to invade a foreign country and people still shoplift. A bunch of rent-a-cops are surely going to drive the shoplifter numbers down, right? It's almost as if the whole stealing thing happens for a different reason..




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