Jewish Journal

Sticky Fingers Pointing at Us Dampened My Holiday Cheer

by Pini Herman

January 5, 2012 | 5:56 am

An Employee, Vendor or Executive?

I haven’t seen many shoplifters, but I’m was told in a widely published piece by the Associated Press’ Sarah Skidmore that I wasn’t looking hard enough and that there was going to be an increase of 6 percent.

I like to think that I’m living in an environment, despite Winona Ryder, where the majority of people identify with being honest. Even Winona is basically honest and just needed and hopefully benefited from therapy. The FBI’s preliminary Uniform Crime Report data for 2010 shows continuing crime decreases.  Violent crimes (murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault) fell by 5.5% and property crimes (burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft, arson) fell by 2.8% from the year before.

How is it that news stories are trumpeting an increase?  It turns out that a private company, Center for Retail Research, which sells security consulting to companies asked a very small and inadequate sample of retail companies’ theft reduction departments what they felt their their experience with theft will be this season.  This survey has been done for years and I can’t find where these estimates of future crime were ever reviewed to see if they panned out with with actual crimes.

Interestingly, when one checks back to the data another picture of company employees and vendors stealing far more retail goods emerges. It turns out that a third of expected theft is by customers, half of theft is by company employees and vendors and about a sixth is lost to company internal error.

The above description of the retail world may pretty well sum up the recent sub-prime mortgage crisis, except the customers didn’t even have to shoplift. These sub-prime customers were convinced by “money retailers” to use purchase loan plans that the lenders knew most couldn’t afford at terms contracted. Ironically, most sub-prime borrowers try or tried valiantly to pay because they see themselves as honest people who signed a contract that they are beholden to.

The AP shoplifting story came out the same week Bank of America Corp. settled to pay record $335 million to compensate borrowers who were charged more for discriminatory home loans based on race and national origin. Still, not one sub-prime corporate executive is sitting next to convicted shoplifters populating our jail cells.

Pini Herman, PhD. has served as Asst. Research Professor at the University of Southern California Dept. of Geography,  Adjunct Lecturer at the USC School of Social Work,  Research Director at the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles following Bruce Phillips, PhD. in that position (I was just notified that with 40,000 visitors this year the 15 year old study of the LA Jewish population was Third Among The Top Ten Publications Downloaded from Berman Jewish Policy Archives in 2011) and is immediate past President of the Movable Minyan a lay-lead independent congregation in the 3rd Street area. Currently he is a principal of Phillips and Herman Demographic Research. To email Pini: pini00003@gmail.com To follow Pini on Twitter:

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Bruce Phillips is Professor of Sociology and Jewish Communal Studies at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Los Angeles. He has conducted Jewish population...

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