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Is it true that elderly people do a surprising amount of shoplifting?

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LoZoccolo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-18-07 11:05 PM
Original message
Is it true that elderly people do a surprising amount of shoplifting?
I had heard this on some kind of news report. They said that they often use very obvious excuses as well, such as "it fell into my bag" when caught. Does anyone here work in loss prevention or law enforcement who could substantiate a claim for or against this notion?
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kevinbgoode Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-18-07 11:07 PM
Response to Original message
1. I would hope not. . ..
but I guess I wouldn't be surprised. My own parents struggle every month to pay the bills. . .it's awful. I can't imagine how hard it is for those who have even less.

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Colobo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-18-07 11:07 PM
Response to Original message
2. My grandma likes to steal grapes from the supermarket
She eats them while she buys other stuff.
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Bozita Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-18-07 11:11 PM
Response to Original message
3. If they're shoplifting at drug stores, it may be considered justifiable by many
The drug stores stick-up the oldsters.

Turnabout is fair play.
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Suich Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-18-07 11:13 PM
Response to Original message
4. I used to take an elderly neighbor shopping and she shoplifted all the time!
It wasn't a question of being able to afford it...she just thought some things cost too much, like spices!

:)
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Miss Chybil Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-18-07 11:17 PM
Response to Original message
5. NPR did a nice story on this a few months ago.
Edited on Sun Mar-18-07 11:21 PM by Miss Chybil
A lot of them do it simply because they're bored. I'll try to find a link...

On edit: I couldn't find anything on NPR, but here's an old Time article about the subject:

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,950803...


On the NPR show they actually had admitted/convicted shoplifters talking about what they did and why. It was very interesting.
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TexasLawyer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-19-07 03:47 PM
Response to Reply #5
35. I heard that report too
and hadn't realized that the elderly were up to so much thievery.

The elderly lady the report focused on was shoplifting for thrills, and she seemed completely without remorse or recognition that she had been doing something wrong.
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rebel with a cause Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-18-07 11:27 PM
Response to Original message
6. How old is elderly?
Edited on Sun Mar-18-07 11:29 PM by rebel with a cause
I'm not sure anymore how old people have to be to be considered elderly. Others tell me that I'm middle aged, and I tell them I didn't know that many people live to be 122. So I consider myself elderly and I don't shop lift, but if I had to live on just what I get, I might have to rob banks to get by. ;-)

Edited to add: Shop lifting is for sissies. B-)
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windbreeze Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-19-07 01:45 AM
Response to Reply #6
12. ROFLMAO....at your post....
don't know why it tickled me, but it did...thanks...yeah, I'm lying, I do know...because for years, there was one restaurant, that kept moving it's senior age up...first from 55 to 60, then 62, now 65...took me years to get that $.50 discount...LOL...I began to wonder if I were ever going to be old enough to qualify...as for shop lifting..uh uh...not yet anyway...but if my medical coverage expense goes up any higher, I may be tempted...naw...no one has anything I want bad enough to steal it...(not yet anyway)
wb
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rebel with a cause Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-19-07 01:54 PM
Response to Reply #12
27. When and if the day comes, contact me
I can use a "leg man" to push my wheel chair when I rob those banks. B-)

I don't always use a wheel chair, but it's faster (if the pusher is healthy) than when I walk. ;-)
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windbreeze Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-19-07 02:51 PM
Response to Reply #27
30. funny you should mention
robbing banks....LOL...I always said if and I do mean IF, I were ever going to steal anything...it was going to have to be worth my time...like a couple million or so..not messing around with a couple thousand...I want the big bucks...hey, if it gets you free room and board and medical coverage...maybe the couple thousand works after all...LOL..running with the wheel chair would be ok...as long as we have no bumps to go over...I wouldn't want to stub your face when I dump you out...could cause a delay in the getaway....LOL disclaimer here: I AM joking...
wb
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rebel with a cause Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-19-07 03:41 PM
Response to Reply #30
34. So WAS I. Joking that is.
I pity the fool that didn't catch on to that with our wheel chair get away and all, but you never know these days. It is better to be safe than sorry, so if anyone out there thinks we are honestly going to rob a bank with a wheel chair and no gun (I don't own one), you are wrong. We are silly maybe but we're not dummies. And we are O8)s not :evilfrown: s.
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Lautremont Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-18-07 11:47 PM
Response to Original message
7. As I get closer to the end of my life,
I fully expect my willingness to do things I used to be too afraid or abashed to do to skyrocket.

So I wouldn't be surprised if the Senior's Discount was often of the five-fingered variety.
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riverdeep Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-18-07 11:50 PM
Response to Original message
8. Well, it's true that elderly shoplifting is going up,
but the population as a whole is getting older too, so I don't know if the percentage of elderly shoplifters has gone up. Even if it remained constant, there would be more raw numbers, because of the larger pool. I believe that most shoplifting is actually done by employees though.
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BlooInBloo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-19-07 12:02 AM
Response to Reply #8
10. Good point - especially combined with economics.
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rox63 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-18-07 11:59 PM
Response to Original message
9. A lot of older people live in poverty
I don't hold it against anyone who does it for that reason.
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SharonAnn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-19-07 12:15 AM
Response to Reply #9
11. And people with various stages of dementia can do those things.
A friend of mine, in the relatively early stages of Alzheimer's, would pick up things he wanted and put them in his pocket or briefcase or jacket. If you asked him about it he'd deny taking it. When confronted with the item he'd say it was his, and he was serious.

Dementias are hard to predict but there are some things that frequently happen.
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murloc Donating Member (381 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-19-07 01:56 AM
Response to Original message
13. Shoplifters age just like everyone else

Old shoplifters were more than likely, young shoplifters years ago.

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loyalsister Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-19-07 06:16 AM
Response to Reply #13
15. Interesting comment
I like it, because it leads me to consider the possibility that it is only surprising because we stereotype our elders as unwilling to participate in any criminal behavior.
We have certain expectations of them based on stereotypes that most of us conveniently reference. In some ways, those expectations disregard an element of their humanity. They are human enough to be bad.

We could shoot down one stereotype after another by pondering what might surprise us......

Is it true that a surprising number of clergy are not particularly nice people?
They are human. It would only be "surprising" because of the stereotype and expectations.
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no_hypocrisy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-19-07 05:54 AM
Response to Original message
14. Not necessarily. My elderly uncle maxed out his credit cards
and left the debt to his estate.
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SoCalDem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-19-07 07:07 AM
Response to Reply #14
16. I guess he decided he did not want to "leave it to his heirs".
:rofl:
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no_hypocrisy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-19-07 08:46 AM
Response to Reply #16
17. You kidding? He left them with the estate owing thousands of dollars.
Edited on Mon Mar-19-07 08:46 AM by no_hypocrisy
The Anti-Will.
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SoCalDem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-19-07 04:00 PM
Response to Reply #17
37. Unless they were signatories on those cards, why would they have to pay them?
My friend was caretaker for an elderly family member, and when he died, the debts he had, died with him. All she had to do was send a copy of his death certificate when the bills came in after he died, and she never heard from them again.

If your uncle left a spouse behind, they would be responsible, but I don't see how any other family member could be held liable if there was not enough estate money to cover them.
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treestar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-19-07 09:01 AM
Response to Original message
18. The older you get, the less you have to lose
when you think about, the still-moving elderly could be the most dangerous people on the planet.

think about it. An 80+ year old could even kill somebody if they really wanted to. What are they going to get? The death penalty. "Life" in prison?





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JPZenger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-19-07 09:09 AM
Response to Reply #18
19. Happened a great deal near my work
In the downtown where I work, there used to be a supermarket. The owner complained about how hard it was to deal with the elderly shoplifters who were stealing food. Many came from the elderly subsidized high rises nearby. He didn't want to charge them criminally, but he was upset at the losses.

Often they would stuff meat down their pants. Therefore, he couldn't resell the stuff after he caught them.
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LoZoccolo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-19-07 11:56 AM
Response to Reply #19
20. Thank you for the tip about how to steal meat.
:D
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NorthernSpy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-19-07 12:09 PM
Response to Original message
21. in some cases, this might be attributable to dementia...
Forgetfulness, uncharacteristic deliberate antisociality, a return to child-like pre-moral/unsocialized modes of behavior: any of these things could play a role in some cases of shoplifting by the elderly.
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rinsd Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-19-07 12:18 PM
Response to Original message
22. Uncle Leo?
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TeeYiYi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-19-07 12:24 PM
Response to Original message
23. I've known more than one old man . . .
. . . to come home from the hardware store with a pocket full of nails. My father and grandfather included.

TYY
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Balbus Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-19-07 12:40 PM
Response to Original message
24. Just batteries
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Cleita Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-19-07 12:46 PM
Response to Original message
25. I dunno? Did your source have a source or, were they
pulling facts out of thin air? It could happen that some elderly on a fixed incomes could shoplift necessities out of desperation especially if they are caring for a sick spouse who needs certain products that they can't afford. Also, forgetfulness could cause someone to walk out of a store without paying. I suppose there are some figures out there. There is a government agency that publishes crime statistics but I can't remember which one it is right now but google should bring it up.
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KansDem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-19-07 12:57 PM
Response to Original message
26. Intriguing premise. I have a couple of observations to add...
Is it true that elderly people do a surprising amount of shoplifting?

In addition to other explanations offered on this thread, I can also see elders shoplifting because:

1) They just don't care anymore. After living 60, 70, 80 years or so in a society that advocates "liberty and justice," and finally realizing that neither exist, they steal for their own comfort or existence, particularly if they've become jaded toward the criminal justice system.

2) A sense of entitlement. After working one's whole life, perhaps some are not ready to see that they don't have enough to live out their "golden years." TV and magazine ads aimed at senior citizens show active, healthy-looking seniors in stylish clothes and nice smiles enjoying golf or an RV trip. But how many seniors really do these kinds of activities, or are even able to?

I know I'm in my mid-50s and have felt some degree of these two observations.


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tinfoilinfor2005 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-19-07 02:09 PM
Response to Original message
28. There are several Century Village retirement complexes in Florida.
We've know restaurant managers in some of these areas because we're in the hospitality business. They tell us stories of gangs of "oldsters" (and I fit that category so I'm entitled to say that) who come in for happy hour, fill their purses with goodies, bring their own liquor in flasks or small bottles, "take" all the sugar, sweet-and-lo packages, and anything else that isn't nailed down. They have to post large signs at the buffets..."NO TAKE HOME." etc. because people show up with their own ziplock bags. It is comical, but it is also very costly to the restaurants.
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kskiska Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-19-07 02:18 PM
Response to Original message
29. Wal-Mart doesn't even prosecute over-65s anymore
Some Leeway for the Small Shoplifter

Wal-Mart refuses to carry smutty magazines. It will not sell compact discs with obscene lyrics. And when it catches customers shoplifting even a pair of socks or a pack of cigarettes it prosecutes them.

But now, in a rare display of limited permissiveness, Wal-Mart is letting thieves off the hook at least in cases involving $25 or less.

According to internal documents, the company, the nations largest retailer and leading destination for shoplifting, will no longer prosecute first-time thieves unless they are between 18 and 65 and steal merchandise worth at least $25, putting the chain in line with the policies of many other retailers.

Under the new policy, a shoplifter caught trying to swipe, say, a DVD of the movie Basic Instinct 2 ($16.87) would receive a warning, but one caught walking out of the store with E.R. The Complete Fifth Season ($32.87) would face arrest.

Wal-Mart said the change would allow it to focus on theft by professional shoplifters and its own employees, who together steal the bulk of merchandise from the chain every year, rather than the teenager who occasionally takes a candy bar from the checkout counter.

more
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/13/business/13walmart.ht...
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windbreeze Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-19-07 03:01 PM
Response to Original message
31. y'know, along these same lines with elderly/shoplifting
in the little town next to us...the police did a sting, and what did they net?? A group of over 60 retirees running a drug ring...had them a whole bunch of participants...couldn't make ends meet on what they had, so they got creative...this was a few years ago, and I was dumbfounded when I read it....now I am retired...perhaps I could understand just a little more...that is, if I didn't have this thing about drugs as a whole...

I'd say it's kinda sad that choices like these have to be made by older people, in order to survive..yet we can spend billions in Iraq, and other places, killing people..
wb
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bobbolink Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-19-07 03:03 PM
Response to Original message
32. What are their choices?
Some choices that people make...


Lobster or filet mignon

Red beans or navy beans


A Jaguar or a Mercedes-Benz

Fix the brakes or pay the heating bill.


A 40" screen or a 50" screen

Blood pressure medication or shoes


A gated community or a penthouse

Rent or food


Cabo San Lucas or Maui

The attic or the Superdome


Some people still say that 'choice' is a 'liberal' concept... and that poverty isn't a winning issue.

For the love of God, what are we trying to win?


Thanks to Sapphire Blue, for her strong voice on POVERTY ISSUES!!
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shance Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-19-07 03:04 PM
Response to Original message
33. Considering they are being shoplifted by this Administration, I wouldn't be surprised.
n/t
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foreigncorrespondent Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-19-07 03:50 PM
Response to Original message
36. Yes! I worked loss prevention and have first hand knowledge.
Edited on Mon Mar-19-07 03:51 PM by foreigncorrespondent
I have quite a lot (close to 600) of incident reports in my brie case just from my last job and the majority of people I picked up for shop steal were elderly. Mostly elderly men taking tools and hardware they couldn't afford.

Prior to that job, I was working as loss prevention in an Australian grocery store chain, and again the majority I picked up were elderly. They were mostly women with shopping trolleys full of groceries but would take little $2.00 items and slip them into their pockets.

It really is very sad to see this happen with our elderly citizens of the world. But after doing this job myself and others in the field realized that they were doing it for some attention. All be it negative attention, but nevertheless attention. They know if we call the police the police won't do anything anyway.

On edit: typo
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