Classes inform shoplifters of better choices

If they were going to make a Breakfast Club sequel with eight very different individuals bonding by baring the darkness of their innermost pain, it could be filmed Tuesdays at the Everette Hodge Community Center.

The Ulster County YWCA offers a four-week cognitive-behavioral program to help those convicted of shoplifting see the folly of their ways. Through group discussions and imparting information on better decision-making, accountability, consequences, resources, community impact and more, the classes’ graduates are, theoretically, better-equipped to make different decisions the next time they walk into a store.

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, there are about 23 million shoplifters in theUnited States. Shoplifters steal about $25 million in goods every day, 365 days a year.


According to the group’s facilitator, Jamie Kesick, there is never a time when class enrollment drops below at least five people. “There’s never a shortage of shoplifters, I guess,” she said.  According to Kesick, being caught for the act of shoplifting — suspects are usually charged with the misdemeanor of petit larceny — seems to be the only common thread among the diverse faces, ages and socio-economic background of the group members. Kesick explained having no money is not a primary reason for shoplifting. “There are kids who will say that their moms and dads give them everything, but they steal anyway. Then we have the opposite too, and they don’t have anything.”

Shoplifters find themselves classmates thanks to court and probation referrals. Most of the shoplifters did their crimes in the shopping plazas in or around Kingston; first-time offenders are often sentenced to the class and 32 hours of community service. In the event that it is determined that the shoplifter is more than the casual thief, a referral to mental health services is made.

Poor impulse control?

“Because I wanted it,” is the mantra of the shoplifter, noted Kesick. What are kids stealing these days? Makeup, jewelry and DVDs. Kesick pointed out that much of the issue lies with bad decision-making, such as the case of one woman who left her credit card across town and decided to steal the item she was intending to purchase. “They wanted the makeup, but didn’t want to pay for it,” said Kesick. “Some of them even have that money in their pocketbook and they still don’t want to pay for it.” Kesick said one man was so high he planned to steal items from Spencer’s in the mall and sell them on the street for drugs. Another woman claimed her 2-year-old baby was responsible for putting the stolen property in her bag.

There is one comment

  1. nopolitics

    Well DEFINITELY there are better choices than shoplifting:better to become a Psychiatrist, that way you can rip everyone off legally.

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