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Rich as thieves

By Judy Martel · Bankrate.com
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Posted: 3 pm ET

Who is more likely to shoplift, a rich person or a poor one? If you guessed the rich one, you're right.

In her book "The Steal," author Rachel Shteir takes a look at the history of theft in our culture and cites one study that reports people earning $70,000 per year are 30 percent more likely to have sticky fingers than those earning $20,000 per year. So if it's not out of need, why do the wealthy shoplift?

In an interview with Time.com, Shteir says both rage against society and a sense of entitlement contribute to the urge to steal from stores.

Shoplifters feel entitled to help themselves because they see the excesses of the wealthy and famous on television and other media. Another explanation, according to Shteir, is that "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."

Shteir says shoplifting costs businesses more than $30 billion per year, but since there's no way stores can catch and prosecute everyone who pilfers a lipstick, the crime remains underreported. Someone has to pay, however, and unfortunately that's the rest of us, who shell out an estimated $400 per year per family in higher prices.

Do you think the lifestyles of the wealthy are causing people to feel entitled to steal?

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