Lindsay Lohan's latest shoplifting scandal has put the spotlight on celebrity shoplifters. LiLo is not the first to be associated with the disgraceful act as she follows celebrities such as Britney Spears and Winona Ryder into the hall of shoplifting shame. But the question that boggles many is what drives the rich stars to steal.
Celebrity Shoplifting Hall of Shame
Lindsay Lohan has been slapped with a charge of theft and faces up to five years in prison for allegedly stealing a $2500 necklace. In terms of the value of the stolen goods, actress Winona Ryder comes close. She was convicted of shoplifting after trying to steal over $5,000 worth of products from a Beverly Hills department store back in 2001. She was held guilty of vandalism and grand theft and was ordered to pay $3,700 in fines as well as $6,355 in restitution to Saks Fifth Avenue along with 480 hours of community service. She was also placed on probation for 3 years.
In 2007, the year when pop star Britney Spears underwent a divorce, multiple rehab stints, a meltdown characterized by a shaved head, the star also caught shoplifting on a video. TMZ.com published a video of the pop star stealing a lighter from a display case of a gas station convenience store.
In the same year, model and actor Adam Rickitt was arrested and charged for shoplifting after he was caught walking out of an Auckland supermarket with a bottle of HP sauce, a block of cheese and a jar of coffee that he 'forgot' to pay for. He defended himself saying it was an honest mistake.
Bess Myerson, the first Jewish Miss America and the champion for civil rights who worked extensively with the Anti-Defamation League, walked out of a small department store in a small town in Pennsylvania with products worth $44.07. Two security guards caught her with five pairs of earrings, six bottles of fingernail polish, packages of flashlight batteries and a pair of shoes in a shopping bag and in her purse.
Will & Grace actress Shelley Morrison was arrested for shoplifting at a Robinsons-May store in California in 2003.
Celebrities from the entertainment sphere are not the only ones to be caught in the act. Tennis player Jennifer Marie Capriati tried to steal a cheap silver ring from a mall in Florida in 1993. Olympic gold medalist Olga Korbut was also accused of stealing $19 worth groceries from a Georgia supermarket.
A well known movie critic Rex Reed was caught with three CDs that he had not paid for in his pocket.
So why do celebrities shoplift?
While it is easy to rationalize why individuals with financial troubles chose to steal or shoplift, the cases of celebrity thieves raises the question if affordability is the only factor behind such behaviour.
Besides this, there is also the risk of severe consequences for celebrities, including jeopardizing their reputations and careers. Movie stars or public figures of any sort are attract harsher criticism and face the possibility of losing public admiration and consequently their stardom.
Several psychologists have even rubbished the 'for the thrill of it' theory.
Psychology categorizes shoplifting as an 'Impulse Disorder' known as Kleptomania. Some theories connect specific personality traits with the inclination to steal from stores, indicating that shoplifting is related to personality. For instance, research has found that males, who are antisocial and disorganized are more likely to steal while young and outgoing were more likely to be actively involved in shoplifting activities.
In Why Honest People Shoplift or Commit Other Acts of Theft, Psychologist and author Will Cupchik (Ph.D.) establishes that several factors push celebrities and other law-abiding citizen's to shoplift. Major stressors, such as actual or anticipated losses, poor coping skills, failure to deal with emotions among others cause an individual to act out. One of the ways through which people 'act out' is stealing or shoplifting.
The bottom line? Celebrities like everybody else are prone to stress, come with their own personality traits and ultimately are human.
Meanwhile, Superior Court Judge Keith Schwartz chose to tell trouble-prone actress Lindsay Lohan that she, like everybody else, should also follow the law while hearing her case.
If you violate the law I will remand you and set no bail. Look around this room. Everybody else has to follow the law. You're no different than anyone else. So please, don't push your luck, Schwartz is quoted as saying in the court.