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Shoplifting: the students’ view

Subjects’ names have been changed to protect their identities. 



tudents from Paly like to portray themselves as smart, responsible and caring members of society, however, there is another side to the student body: the shoplifting side.

Instead of purchasing their food or clothing, these students simply take it from the store, without paying.

“I do it when I don’t have cash on me but am in need of something or want something,” junior Randy said. “I usually took lighters, Red Bull, chips, candy.”

Shoplifting can involve big or expensive items, but usually it includes smaller items such as chapstick, small food and nail polish.

“[I take things] when I don’t have enough money to pay for things,” anonymous sophomore Betsy said. “Just like small things like food, chapstick or earrings.”

Because Paly is conveniently situated across the street from Town and Country, CVS and Trader Joe’s feel a negative effect on their business.

“One time I stole three big bags of chips, two Red Bulls and a packet of candy,” Randy said. “This was back when you were allowed to wear your backpack into the store.”

Betsy usually shoplifts about once a week, taking small things like chocolate from Trader Joe’s.

“At Trader Joe’s you just pick it up and kind of walk out like no one says anything,” Betsy said.

However, these businesses have caught on and take precautions against shoplifters. For example, CVS employed a new policy a few years ago that requires high school students to drop off their backpack at the front of the store.

Although this may seem bothersome to certain students, it is one of the measures that CVS takes to avoid losing money.

Other things that students steal include clothing, although it can be more difficult and takes a more skilled shoplifter.

“I’ve taken a shirt before from [Urban Outfitters],” Betsy said. “You put it on under your clothes, just take a bunch of clothes, and [the workers] usually don’t notice.”

Shoplifting, however, can lead to trouble and has serious consequences.

For example, petty theft in California can be punishable by a $1,000 fine or up to six months in jail. On top of that comes a moral price and the possibility of being banned from a store, such as Trader Joe’s.

“I got arrested once while shoplifting in Yosemite National Park,” Randy said.

Betsy was caught shoplifting once also, but it was by her mom and not the store she stole from.

“She noticed I was wearing a ring that I hadn’t bought, and she made me take it back,” Betsy said. “I didn’t return it though. I was grounded for a week.”

Some people may use shoplifting as a way to get an adrenaline rush, but most people, , such as Kaily, do it because it saves money on the smaller things.

“I mean, who hasn’t slipped a lighter from CVS every once in a while?” Kaily said. “I don’t usually take anything else though.”

Others, like Betsy, can sometimes find it hard to control their shoplifting instincts.

“Once I was having an anxiety attack and I went into [Urban Outfitters] and just took a bunch of random objects,” Betsy said, “It’s good to have money on hand in case you get caught, you need to stay composed but at the same time look like you are freaking out, this will make them sympathize with you.”

Shoplifting is found by some to be a way to cope with stress and anxiety, giving the shoplifter an adrenaline rush and perpetuating the habit of stealing from stores. This adrenaline pushes thieves to continue stealing

“After my Urban Outfitters panic attack I kept going in there,” Betsy said.

It is also important to remember where one is when shoplifting, as the environment and the employees watching can make or break a “successful” trip.

CVS and Trader Joe’s declined to comment for this story.

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