Celebrities and other (High Profile) People Shoplift
Over more than twenty twenty years Dr. Cupchik
has been interviewed by all manner of media who were seeking to understand why a
particular prominent person or other would have committed the act of
When celebrities or other prominent
or wealthy adults shoplift, almost everyone - from the theft
offender to their lawyers and the courts, as well as the general public who read
or hear about the matter through the media - is at a loss to understand why
these persons would do such a thing, especially with so much at risk in
terms of the consequences of the public besmirching of their reputation and
their personal humiliation, as well as the possible loss of income or
position (as when the offender is a media personality or a licensed
DISPELLING MYTH # 1: DO THEY DO IT
FOR THE THRILL?
Too often, these high-profile individuals are
presumed, by laypersons and occasionally even some professionals, to have
shoplifted 'as a lark' or 'for the thrill or excitement' of the act of stealing
and getting away with it.
In fact, however, in most cases, the truer
understanding of the matter is hardly that simple. After all, the fact is that
many of these individuals have financial resources that would allow them to seek
out all manner of exciting and (if they so desire) even dangerous, adrenalin
pumping 'thrills', including everything from downhill skiing or snowboarding at
St. Moritz, diving among shipwrecks in the Bermuda Triangle, to extreme sports
and other potentially hazardous yet very thrilling activities (e.g., learning to
fly their own airplanes, hang gliding, etc...), all the way to engaging in 'out
of this world' space travel on the international space station, without
jeopardizing their reputations or careers.
In actual fact, when any generally
law-abiding, hard-working, contributing members of society shoplift, Dr. Will
Cupchik's nearly thirty years of clinical investigations indicate that they do
so for far deeper reasons than 'for the thrill of it'.
After all, would anyone really accept the
simplistic idea that the major reason someone would put a loaded revolver to his
or her head and 'play' Russian roulette would be for the 'thrill' of do
Yet by shoplifting, some prominent/famous
persons are doing something quite analogous; they are playing 'Russian
roulette' with their reputations and/or careers. Anyone who would choose
to do that almost certainly has other personal issues driving their behavior
than merely 'thrill seeking', and the crucial question to ask is, "Why
would this person, with so much to lose, risk their livelihoods and good name by
engaging in a high-risk and illegal behavior? The answers almost
invariably lay much deeper than the level of 'thrill-seeking'.
As has been repeatedly found to be the case in
hundreds of instances of atypical theft behavior by usually honest persons, it
is such issues as major stressors, including perhaps ,what the offender
has perceived as major, actual or anticipated, unfair personally meaningful
losses (such as the actual or anticipated loss of a spouse of a child, key
new working situation, etc...), and/or poor coping skills around dealing
with anger, rejection, loss, etc..., that may lead such an individual to
act out, via stealing.
It is, of course, very important that such
theft behavior be properly understood so that effective treatment may be offered
and better ways of dealing with such stressors in the future developed, without
which there is a real possibility that the person may re-offend again at some
times in the future.
As indicated elsewhere on this website, and
discussed in detail in Dr. Cupchik's book, Why
Honest People Shoplift Of Commit Other Acts Of Theft, manyAtypical Theft
Offenders have been found to have experienced unusual, highly stressful or
traumatic situations just prior to the acts of shoplifting, as well as
unusual, highly stressful or traumatic situations when they were much younger,
and both the more recent and much earlier (and usually still unresolved)
issues must be uncovered and dealt with in therapeutic ways, so as to minimize
the likelihood that there will be further occasions of acting out by stealing.
It is imperative to note that unless
the genuine underlying reasons for such acting out behavior are uncovered and
dealt with appropriately and in depth, then the likelihood of further
acting out by stealing at some time in the future remains a very distinct
The one-on-one Intensive Intervention
Program developed and run by Dr. Cupchik aims to accomplish the necessary work
in a short period, or at least to make a crucial beginning in this effort. Dr.
Cupchik may provide consultations to therapists who continue to work with
clients who have attended the three-day Intensive Intervention Program.