Another Way of Reducing Theft

On September 12, 2012, C.A.S.A. (Cleptomaniacs And Shoplifters Anonymous) celebrated its 20th anniversary of existence in metro-Detroit. When I started this local support group in late 1992, there was only one or two such groups in the U.S. based on my best-research (and both have since folded long ago). I remember showing up 14 consecutive weeks before our first new member finally arrived. I’m glad I hung in there! Now, we have five local weekly meetings in metro-Detroit. We’ve seen an estimated 2,000 people over the last 20 years. There’s about 15 other C.A.S.A. meetings throughout the U.S. We also have an online support group with 250 members worldwide and three weekly phone support groups. We still have a ways to go to get anywhere near the prevalence and acceptance of, say, Alcoholics Anonymous. Still, it’s a start!

I feel proud as an attorney, therapist, and recovering shoplifter myself to have started C.A.S.A. and I still benefit from attending meetings a couple of times per month. After 20 years of trying to help myself, others, and society understand the roots of “shoplifting addiction” and ways to effectively treat it, I believe we’ve slowly become more enlightened that this addiction is real. Yet, much shame and ignorance persists; there remain very few resources–books, therapists, and support groups for people who need them. I want to share a bit about the demographics of the people who attend our groups as well as the results of an online survey of theft addicts I conducted a year and a half ago.

Here are my best estimates of some key statistics of the roughly 2,000 persons who have attended C.A.S.A. meetings in metro-Detroit from 12/1992 through 10/2012:

*65% women
*35% men
*60% directly court-ordered
*30% begin after arrest but before being court-ordered
*10% voluntary (came on their own)
*70% have been previously arrested
*25% report first arrest
*5% never been arrested
*70% report 1st theft as a child
*20% report 1st theft as a teen
*10% report 1st theft as an adult
*25% report shoplifting nearly daily
*40% report shoplifting at least 1x/week
*20% report shoplifting at least 1x/month
*10% report shoplifting around 1x/year
*5% report shoplifting one time
*25% report other stealing behavior (employee theft, etc.)
*30% report other addictions (food, alcohol/drugs, gambling)
*70% report co-dependency/over-giving issues
*70% report severe shame from shoplifting
*70% report depression and/or anxiety issues
*30% report currently seeing a counselor
*50% report have seen a counselor at some time
*30% report taking some form of psychiatric medication
*25% attend C.A.S.A. over 1 year (shoplifting virtually stops)
*50% attend C.A.S.A. for 6 moths-1 year (shoplifting greatly reduced)
*20% attend C.A.S.A. for less than 6 months (shoplifting lessens)
*5% attend C.A.S.A. one time and never return

See: for more facts/stats about shoplifting

Results from The Shulman Center May 2011 online survey of 123 self-describe “theft addicts:

1. Number of participants: 111 women / 12 men
2. Current average age: 41% bet. 40-50 / 32% bet. 50-60
3. 52% married; 22% divorced; 22% single
4. 94% heterosexual
5. 37% some college; 28% college grad; 23% grad degree
6. 42% work full-time; 18% part-time; 17% unemployed
7. 57% work for other; 32% work for self; 12% work both
8. 76% have kids; 43% have two kids
9. 22% household income bet. $50-75k; 18% bet. $30-50k
10. 51% first stole something bet. age 1-10; 40% bet. 11-20
11. 23% stole money; 21 % food; 18% clothes; 38% other
12. 70% first stole from a store; 26% first stole from a person
13. 27% stealing real problem bet age 11-20; 29% bet 21-30
14. 94% have shoplifted; 70% switch tags; 61% return fraud
15. 74% say shoplifting is biggest problem; 7% from people
16. 81% say shoplifting most addictive; 6% say from people
17. 90% say stealing led to loss of self-esteem; 81% arrested
18.17% arrested more than 5x; 15% have never been arrested
19. 63% never fired from work for theft; 19% fired once
20. 50% never served 1 day jail; 18% served at least 1 day
21. 52% have served 1-10 days; 17% served 11-30 days
22. 88% have stolen again after arrest or prosecution for theft
23. 32% in counseling more than 3 times; 24% once
24. 72% felt entitled to steal; 70% depressed; 62% angry
25. 24% have stolen over 1,000 times; 21% bet. 500-1,000
26. 55% cite embarrassment/53% cite $ as barriers to therapy
27. 87% sought therapy; 68% books; 52% support groups
28. 38% say therapy most helpful; 25% support groups
29. 20% say 1-2years longest time theft-free; 18% 5+ years
30. 46% say currently theft-free 1-30 days; 13% 6 months–1year
31. 38% also have eating disorders; 30% shopping addiction
32. 69% feel better self-esteem in recovery; 61% more peace
33. 23% go to stores too much / life unfair: relapse triggers
34. 34% say family wants to learn/support my recovery
35. 48% told a few people about their stealing: 18% just God
36. 37% very grateful and very active in recovery
See full results and graphics:

So, while nearly 80 years of A.A. meetings haven’t stopped alcoholism or drunk driving, it’s making a dent. I’m sure most of us know at least one close friend or family member who has benefitted from A.A. and/or alcohol treatment. I believe the same will be true of C.A.S.A. meetings and treatment for addictive stealing. I do believe there should be natural consequences to stealing, including legal consequences. My goal is to help those who need more intense, specialized, and lasting help. I appreciate all the loss prevention folks I’ve talked to or met over the years who see the value in C.A.S.A. meetings and the education and counseling work I do. Thank you!

This entry was posted in Articles, dishonesty, Dishonet Employees, Employee Theft, Honesty, Shoplifting, Shoplifting Statistics and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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