Interviewer: Is it always a crime of necessity? Or, are you looking at where people are more doing this for more compulsive reasons?
Brian Geno: I think that sometimes people steal because they have no money, but I don’t necessarily think that when they have no money they’re doing it because they need those items.
Individuals Accused of Shoplifting are Generally Able to Have Paid for the Stolen Merchandize
If a person were stealing food you could say, “Well, they need food.” They will steal because they have no money, but what they stole was an item that they intend to give away as a gift. It’s just not necessary. It is true, I am sure, that some people steal because they absolutely have to. They need it, but that is definitely not the largest group of people I encounter. Those are people who are charged with theft. It’s usually somebody who you can clearly see how they could have paid for it or they could have easily left it on the shelf and it wouldn’t have harmed them at all to do that. It is hard for me to find examples of people in my practice of people who stole because they absolutely had to. You have the classic example in the movies. John Valjean from Les Miserables who stole bread because he didn’t have any money and his sister’s children were dying. That just is so uncommon here. In our country that usually isn’t the way, at least I think, if happens.
There is No Typical Demographic In Terms of Shoplifting Offenses
Interviewer: Is there a typical demographic you think?
Brian Geno: I think many times the people who steal are probably not making a lot of money. I am not saying they are impoverished, but they usually are not particularly flush. That is not always the case. I started a case yesterday with a man who I know has plenty of money. He couldn’t explain why he took it. I just finished a case yesterday with a person who clearly had enough money and stole something. Got caught. I am starting and finishing cases all the time with people who clearly had enough money and chose to try to steal anyway. If there is a profile I don’t know what it is.
It is sometimes black people, sometimes white people sometimes Asian or Hispanic. It doesn’t seem to be one race more than another. Although, I don’t see it as much with older people perhaps that is a, sort of, category that might fit into. I hate to say that because it is not a very accurate one. If there is a profile I don’t know what it is.
Cases of Accidental Shoplifting are Quite Common
Interviewer: Have you ever seen cases of accidental shoplifting?
Brian Geno: Yes, definitely. I finished a case yesterday with a man, who because of a medical problem, wandered out of the store with products in his hands. We had to fight very hard for him because he didn’t really mean to do it. He, because of a medical problem, had something in his hand and wondered out. The security and the police had absolutely no mercy for that. Yes, I see it. It is not as easy to get off as you would think. If it was a two year old, a three year old, you probably wouldn’t have any resistance to them just overlooking it. As soon as you are an adult they just assume that you meant to do it.