« Paying in cash may help keep you healthy | Main | The changing shape of retirement around the world »

July 11, 2021

The rich steal more than the poor, new book says

Really, what the heck is going on with shoplifting these days?

Only a week after we discussed that, oddly, a recent uptick in thievery meant the economy was back on track (stealing is an inside job, the thinking goes, and more thefts mean workers are no longer crippled by fear of losing their employ), news comes out that once again throws the idea of shoplifting on its head.

According to a new study on the five-finger discount, the rich steal much more than the poor, suggesting that for every starving mother trying to feed her kids, there may be more than a few Winona Ryders in the fold.

By the survey, quoted in the new book, The Steal, Americans with incomes of $70,000-plus each year shoplift 30 per cent more than those earning up to $20,000.


“Entitlement is certainly a factor,” Rachel Shteir, the book’s author, tells Time.com. “Rage is a factor. A lot of people feel that they are the victims in whatever way – whether it’s their life circumstances, or that they’re the victims of a larger economic plot, like Bernie Madoff. There’s this idea of avenging yourself on an impersonal entity, like a store. You see what others have – like on TMZ – and you think, ‘What difference does this make?’”

It’s an interesting take – that, in spite of what we may believe, shoplifting is rarely done out of necessity – but it’s apparently backed by what items we steal.

Women, Time suggests, steal cosmetics. Men steal electronics. Mad Men- and He-Man-stereotypes, Shteir says.

Certainly, though, what’s most disturbing in all this is that ‘E’ word above.

“There’s a pervasive idea that individuals are getting the raw deal, that stores are the true criminals,” Shteir notes. “They’re multinationals, they can afford for people to shoplift, they’re insured.”

But why is it that only wealthy Americans feel this sense of entitlement? If anything, shouldn’t it be lower-income consumers that should feel it’s their “right” to steal?

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money



Post a comment


Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...