Monday, November 1, 2010

Elderly Shoplifting on the Rise in Japan

In another sign of a worsening economic outlook for Japan, it is reported that more and more elderly people are getting arrested for the petty crime of shoplifting.

As the Japan Times reports:

A sad trend is emerging with the all too common crime of shoplifting. Although the total number of crimes recognized by authorities declined to 1.7 million in 2009 from a peak of 2.85 million in 2002 — with shoplifting leveling off at 140,000 to 150,000 cases yearly — more and more elderly people are reported to be shoplifting.

In 2009, 27,000 people aged 65 or older committed the crime — some 7.5 times more than 20 years before.
The author of this article attributes this shoplifting trend to loneliness but I think that is just an excuse that people will say to try to gain sympathy when caught. The article continues:
When elderly shoplifting suspects were asked about their emotional state, 23.9 percent cited loneliness. Half of the elderly suspects said they had nothing to live for. Some 80 percent of articles shoplifted by elderly people were food items, half of which were each priced at ¥1,000 or less. 
I have no doubt that these people are lonely, but, like I said, I also think that people will say anything to get sympathy and penalties lowered once they have been caught and are sitting at the police station.
The real problem here is the worsening economy. In the United States, too, there is a problem with people shoplifting food... Is the common denominator loneliness or a poor economic state?

This about America's shoplifting problem from Lew Rockwell:

Shoplifting is completely and totally out of control. According to the National Association of Shoplifting Prevention, every single day Americans steal more than $35 million worth of goods from retail stores.
I strongly suspect that the economy is the driving issue here and that twenty years of raping the public coiffures and putting the public in serious debt is the cause. This problem will get worse.
I wonder if the Japanese government ever asks itself, "where did these people get the idea that it was OK to steal from others?" Hopefully they'd ask that question while looking in the mirror... But that's doubtful. 


Graham said...

How is it that they are the demographics that have it the easiest but are the ones who are doing more crimes? My theory: combination of the social norm where elderly people are assumed to be respected, and them becoming a majority demographic results in a senior group mentality of "WE ARE KINGS/QUEENS! WE CAN DO WHATEVER THE HELL WE WANT!" And they do, and manage to get away with them too. In a sense this is related to the growing "monster customer" problem.

Andy "In Japan" said...

Sheesh..all these old farts gotta do is take on part time work in the porn industry. Check out Mike's post from yesterday. They get paid every time they have sex. That should provide enough to pay for all the soft foods they could possibly eat.

Ira Hata said...

Mike, it could be both.

There are a number of news documentaries that highlight supermarket g-men (sort of like Cops in the US) catching shoplifters. Most of the shoplifters are old people. When looking at them, it seems they're both lonely and poor. It seems the loneliness factor is pretty big because they're not caught stealing expensive items but 100~300 yen products.

Some of them are caught a number of times (at the same or different locations) and seem to be kleptomaniacs. I'm guessing these people are addicted to the rush.