A Cultural History of Shoplifting

Monday, July 25, 2011

Rachel Shteir talks about the history of shoplifting, an ancient and largely misunderstood crime. The Steal: A Cultural History of Shoplifting discusses the real-life costs for retailers and consumers—shoplifting cost American retailers $11.7 billion in 2009.


Rachel Shteir

Comments [7]

Amy from Manhattan

I think it's not so much "lift" as in "pick up" but as in "steal"--like a pickpocket lifting a mark's wallet.

Jul. 26 2011 12:49 AM
Sarah from Bklyn

The interviewee need only have gone to the many places the world over where people are living subsistance lives to see if there is non-essential shoplifting (not for bread but for fancy purses, etc.).

Also, she implies that it's called shoplifting because it gives the thief an emotional "lift" - but "lift" in this sense is as in "picking up".

Jul. 25 2011 01:38 PM
Michelle from NYC

I am sad that you find humor in shoplifters who target high end merchandise rather than bread. Moll Flanders stole lace, linens and silver, not bread. Bread feeds you for a day, and an expensive bag may help you support your family for a month or more. I would ave expected less laughter and more compassion as you accuse people with no resources of frivolity.

Jul. 25 2011 01:34 PM

Interesting topic and guest. Tx.

Jul. 25 2011 01:33 PM
Amy from Manhattan

On the electronic gates that detect the "cookies," did Ms. Shteir hear about the man who would go through them w/his shoplifted items at the same time as a black customer, counting on the guard to stop the other customer while he got away? This may have been as much as 10 years ago.

Jul. 25 2011 01:26 PM
Udo Dirkenschneider

Shoplifting is vile. The punishment should be severe. To admire shoplifting is sick.

The fine should be something on the order of 500 times the lifted items.

Jul. 25 2011 01:20 PM
Amy from Manhattan

How much better were the asylums than the jails in those days?

Jul. 25 2011 01:19 PM

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