Author`s name Olga Savka

Russian Shoplifters Steal Vodka, Caviar and Kama Sutra

People are not ashamed of stealing now

Supermarkets are common in a lot of Russian towns, although they started appearing in the country just several years ago. People like them a lot: one can choose food stuffs, books, and everything else to their own liking. Fraudsters like going to supermarkets too.

Shoplifting is most common for children up to ten years old and for young men and women of up to 23 years old. As a rule, young people shoplift because of the excitement, because of the wish to prove themselves that they can do it. Pensioners have another excuse - "we have nothing to eat." It goes without saying that professional thieves go "shopping" to supermarkets as well. They steal in order to sell. Most of all, they are attracted to expensive goods: shampoos, perfumes, alcohol drinks, and so on and so forth. Some of them have a special uniform: a jacket with many pockets on the inner side, baggy trousers, women wear tights that can "house" stolen things.

Security guards watch customers together with several administrators. However, Russian shoplifters manage to outwit even security cameras. At first, they take something and put it in a shopping cart. A little bit later, they take it out of the cart and hide it in a pocket. If there is a couple of thieves in a supermarket, one of them covers the camera and the other one hides the things. At times, they detract attention of an administrator or a salesgirl to give a partner an opportunity to "work."

In Moscow's huge supermarkets, shoplifters have to be more sophisticated and inventive. They usually enter a supermarket with a big bag, start looking for something on shelves, and then suddenly "recollect" something, go back to the entrance and leave the bag in the storage room. Usually, the bag already contains a couple of bottle of expensive wine and delicacies. Sometimes, a shoplifter hides small things inside big ones: chocolates and sweets in a cardboard cake box, for example.

Intelligent shoplifters usually go to bookstores. They walk among  shelves of books, talk about the literary work and quote their favorite writers. Then they start "working" with the personnel. "At first, they usually ask about a book. Once I say something– they shower you with words, smart argumentation, they develop a discussion and then say things like "I am sorry, but we do not agree with your philosophy" and leave quickly, taking a couple of books underneath a coat or a sweater," salesgirl Marina says.

Kleptomaniacs are a special category of shoplifters. Doctor of psychology Viktoria Dolganova explains: "Kleptomaniacs are different from common thieves because they do not care about what they steal. A certain situation provokes an impulse for such people: the feeling of excitement before and the feeling of pleasure and satisfaction after an act of theft. A kleptomaniac acts absolutely spontaneously - such people can be very sorry for what they have done."

Maybe, shoplifters regret their actions, but they never return anything to supermarkets. If a shoplifter is caught, they try to find various ways out. One of the most common excuses is sclerosis: "Oh, I forgot that I put these two chocolates in my pocket, I am sorry." Administrator Igor told the following story: "We had coffee cans missing from our supermarket on a regular basis. We suspected one man, because coffee was disappearing when he was visiting. We started following the man and finally caught him red-handed. When the police arrived, he showed them a document, which said that he was a mentally unbalanced person. We had to let him go, although we hoped that he would pay for all the coffee that he had stolen."

"People are not ashamed of stealing now, - salesgirl Irina says. - I have been working as a shop assistant for a long time and I have noticed that if a shoplifter is caught - they do not cry or apologize, they do not promise that it was the first and the last time. They just give away the stolen things, they do not even blush."

Here is a short list of the goods, which are very popular among Russian shoplifters. The first place on the list is taken by the novel "Generation II" by Viktor Pelevin. A lot of literature fans have tried to steal that book, although it costs only 47 rubles (a bit more than one dollar). The second position is taken by Kama Sutra and other books on the issue. Science fiction ranks third. Vodka is most popular among alcohol beverages. Foodstuffs include sausages and desserts. Shampoos are shoplifted most often among cosmetic goods, together with soap and perfume.

"A man came to our bookstore and started putting one book after another in a big plastic bag. He was so confident doing that, so the personnel believed he was a serious customer. When the bag was full, the man left the store, although the bag did not stand the weight and burst at the door. That was the moment when the unlucky thief attracted everyone's attention."

"A girl attempted to steal a large and expensive frying pan. She put a thin rope with a hook on her neck: the pans were lying on the lower shelf, so the girl squatted down and put the hook in the pan's handle. When she stood up, the pan went straight underneath her clothes. The girl was caught because the pan was too big and it looked very awkward on her."

"A friend of ours, who was not a poor lady at all, fell into the habit of shoplifting red caviar. It seemed to her that the stolen caviar was more delicious. She would hid cans of caviar in the pockets of her mink coat – the pockets could hardly be seen in the thick dark fur. She was doing it once a month and only in winter or late autumn, because it was the only season when one can wear a mink coat. One winter day she went to "her" supermarket, reached out for a can of caviar, but a salesgirl "offered her help," gave the can to a security guard and the lady had to pay for it at the cash desk. She was so disappointed, she even stopped eating caviar after that."