Is a Wave of Scuppie Shoplifting Upon Us?

Perhaps not surprisingly, a crime trends survey of 52 U.S. retailers conducted by the Retail Industry Leaders Association found that 84 percent of them experienced an increase in “amateur/opportunistic” shoplifting last fall compared to the same period a year earlier.

In this Gothamist interview, a self-proclaimed shoplifter, his/her identity obscured, details how he/she efficiently steals from Whole Foods on a weekly basis.

Perhaps Whole Foods, known for its socially conscious clientèle, should add Scuppies — Socially Conscious Upwardly Mobile Persons — to the top of its suspicious-shopper profile list.

Or maybe Whole Foods is too socially conscious for its own good; it fired an employee for attempting to stop a shoplifter.

If its employees can’t stop shoplifters, maybe posting signs like this would deter them.


Interesting to see that 'shoplifters' aren't just bums and degenerates (well, that's to be decided...) but others you'd never suspect it - like ME. Ha, the article attracted me b/c I've been lifting randomly for about a decade now (I'm 26) and while I understand the legal ramifications and pricing changes that must EVENTUALLY be taken into consideration for written off theft, I still can't help myself. I've never really thought of WHY I do it though - I know I will never get caught, it's always small and controlled, but it makes me wonder if granny in the line in front of me has some expensive conditioner in her jacket pocket...


The comments left on one of those articles make a valid a shoplifter a customer?

Rob Sharpe

I'm one that has always been able to see moral grayness in the area of stealing for necessity. If someone is hungry bread and rice can go a long way.

After reading the linked article from gothamist I'm sure this gentlemen is delusional. The shoplifter claims to steal for need but he needs "three pounds of wild tuna, two pounds cod fish, one pound of walnuts, three pieces of brie cheese, four carry-on bags of pre-made sushi, one bottle of the best quality Italian olive oil."

I'm not sure this shoplifter is representative of those that steal for need. This person steals for the thrill that follows.


TO RFK (#1): I can't belive how you pride yourself for conrinuosly shoplifiting which, to me is an euphemism for THEFT.

Theft is morally wrong. Is unethical. Is illegal.

Your theft is a despicable action. You are a thief and, as such, I hope you get caught and sent to jail.


In addition to the this "gentleman being delusional", he also seems to be showing a sense of self entitlement that likely got us into such a bad economy, I deserve this grandiose house, I deserve these possessions, I deserve this wlid tuna, and cod.

Except instead of thrusting the burden of these decisions on his future self via personal debt, he's thrusting them upon the rest of society.


TO RFK (#1):

1. Would you feel guilty about stealing a $10 from me?

2. Would you feel guilty about stealing a penny from me, and a thousand other people?

trader n

This kind of theft isn't driven by need.

As a university student saddled with massive tuition payments I felt exploited and disgruntled and would steal small things (e.g. notepads, toilet paper) not because I needed them for survival, but I felt I was owed something for my misery.

As a small number of rich and upper middle class people sequester more wealth you create a large group of disgruntled people who feel deprived (even if they aren't poor and starving).

I expect as wealth disparity grows more middle class people will be inclined to try to redistribute some of that wealth and shoplifting is small and fairly passive aggressive way to do that.


That's not necessity. From the article, that thief steels $100/week. For seven years.

That's $400/month, $5200/year.

$36,000 over the last seven years.

I know food can be expensive but that's more than my family of three spends on food.

$36,000. Wow.

Even if that's overblow by a factor of 10, it's still theft on a significant scale.


the gothamist technique for reacting to (correct) accusation by creating a scene is interesting- i once saw a woman steal a pack of cigs, and i publicly called her out on it, admittedly for ironic fun- the woman proceeded to scream like a maniac, and at that point, everyone left her alone- i think this may be a natural response to crime accusation- by overreacting, perhaps as an attempted deflection away from the content of the accusation- think Gov. Rod


TO SAM(#4) Do you really expect you're going to change his mind with your huffy rant?


TO SIGH (#10): No, I don't really expect anything from that thief, but at least I let some steam off my chest...


TO frankenduf (#9): Thank you for your civil courage. I wish more people would act like you to stop brazen criminals.


Re: #1 (RFK), who said, "I know I will never get caught" ...

Sorry but you do not, in fact, "know" that. No one "knows" the future. If I "knew" the future, I'd be a millionaire ... 'cause I'd already have won the lottery by virtue of having "known" what the numbers would be.

This claim is a very foolish and immature way of trying to rationalize your theft (by insisting that you will never face being punished for it). You can try to rationalize theft any way you want to, but it will never be anything more than a rationale for theft -- and will always be transparent as such.


It had been on my mind throughout the afternoon, I think I agree with Trader N. When I was younger, I couldn't understand why certain clothes (A&F for example) could cost SO MUCH and only for the image they provided - I knew I could and would take lots from stores like that and usually gave the clothes away to friends and others - not as a 'gift' mind you, more as a 'redistribution' and in a way, taking out the 'elitism' of these brands by giving it to everyone. I can't say my mission exactly worked, but yes, I felt justified.

With the gothamist subject however, perhaps calling the kettle back, his motives seem laughable. There are very affordable ways to eat healthy! Am I a classist in the thieving world? Funny to think about regardless.


Nate C.

RFK, do you vote?

chop logic

the truth is complicated with many sides--all of which need to be accounted for.


When people feel entitled to choose their own morality, they will choose one that allows them to rationalize their own desires. Many "socially conscious" people abandon Christianity and other established religions, and yet the human mind seems to require some sort of irrational spirituality. So they embrace feel-good environmentalism (Gaia cult, not driven by scientific data but for its redemptive mythology) or similar views, that let them express their petty foibles without guilt.


How about, "If they are stupid enough that I can get away with it, they deserve it?"

That's the jusification you get from computer mischief-makers.


Re: a_c (#17): Although many believers claim their religions dictate morality, the truth is that this is not the case. No religion is a moral or ethical straitjacket. Believers must still work out morals and ethics on their own ... and no, they do not always agree with one another. If all Christians agreed (e.g.), there would be no reason for hundreds of Christian denominations to exist -- but they do. Many do not even agree with one another, inside of the same denomination or congregation!

Moreover, the existence of non-religious moral and ethical systems (e.g. Confucianism, Epicureanism, etc.) debunks the notion that morals must be connected to a religion. Religiosity does not make people moral; if it did, you would see a substantial difference in (e.g.) crime rates, between religious and non-religious populations. But to my knowledge, no such difference has been found.

As for non-Christian Americans necessarily being Gaia-worshippers -- that's just laughable! I know plenty of folks who are not part of traditional religions, who are as far from being "Gaia-worshippers" as one could get. So again you are wrong in linking two unrelated phenomena.

I'm sure you would feel better, a_c, if the rest of the country, or the world, had the same religious beliefs that you do. But to promote your beliefs based on these erroneous assumptions (such as that Christianity imposes strict morals on its followers) does not constitute a compelling reason to convince others to adopt them. Doing so makes you no better than commenter "RFK," who uses twisted and transparent rationales (#1 and #14) to justify his theft.



Re: PsiCop #19

"Religiosity does not make people moral; if it did, you would see a substantial difference in (e.g.) crime rates, between religious and non-religious populations. But to my knowledge, no such difference has been found."

Actually at least at the level of countries there is a substantial difference, crime rates are much higher in countries with more religious belief.