The New York Times called Peter Berlin the nation’s best known and most active international consultant on retail theft. Peter Berlin started his career in retail security and loss prevention focusing on apprehending shoplifters and dishonest employees. After ten (10) years of seeing all walks of people repeating this self-destructive behavior, he turned his attention toward understanding shoplifting from a human perspective. He began studying the possibility of teaching offenders how to overcome the shoplifting habit (or addiction) they would often develop.
Early in his career, Mr. Berlin recognized that the majority of people apprehended were not career criminals but otherwise decent, law-abiding citizens … mothers, fathers, grandparents, juveniles, business and professional people.
Most shoplifters had a family, a job, had money (or credit card) in their pocket, did not need the item(s) they stole, did not associate with known criminals, were humiliated, ashamed, guilty, fearful, remorseful and often felt devastated by what they had done. During interrogation, almost all shoplifters had “no idea why they did it” but would often quietly mumble under their breath about their struggle with personal issues taking place in their life.
Mr. Berlin sought to question exactly why people struggling with personal issues would seek even more trouble or engage in self-destructive behavior when it was clearly out of their normal character. After hiring three psychologists to study the problem and conducting surveys and personal interviews, he concluded that shoplifting was rarely about greed, poverty or values. It was rather about individuals struggling with their own personal conflicts and needs. It became evident that shoplifting was not the real problem for these people but rather the “symptom” of the real problem. It was also evident that these people were not proud of what they had done and would accept “confidential” help to resolve their life issues and regain their self-respect. This was true for almost all shoplifters except the professional “career criminals” or “drug addicts”. These professionals could not easily be rehabilitated and clearly belonged in either a drug treatment program or jail.
Realizing that the vast majority of shoplifters were not career criminals; that there was little public understanding of the shoplifting problem; knowing that people who shoplift had nowhere to turn because of the shame and fear about what they had done; in 1989 Mr. Berlin started a non-profit organization named Shoplifters Anonymous, Inc.
In 2005, Peter Berlin retired and the organization changed its name to the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention, Inc. (NASP). Peter Berlin continues to work with individuals dealing with a shoplifting issue.
A Message From Peter Berlin
Ever since I came to the conclusion that the ‘root cause’ of most shoplifting was a person’s ability (or inability) to cope with personal issues in their life, I have come to look at people who shoplift as PEOPLE FIRST … and shoplifters (or thieves) second. Even though they committed a criminal act, I do not see most people who shoplift as career criminals but rather as individuals struggling with disturbing personal issues. To me, shoplifting is a symptom which clearly reveals the presence of personal internal stress regarding some aspect of their life.
Shoplifting starts impulsively, not by desire. People don’t wake up one day and say to themselves I’m going to become a shoplifter. One day, while in a store, a person sees an item he/she would like to have but, at that moment, does not want to pay the price. Rather than walk away, they suddenly and impulsively conceal the item … for the first time. After leaving the store, in spite of the guilt, shame and the fear of getting caught, the person discovers that the feeling of “getting something for nothing” and then “getting away with it” has made them feel a little better by temporarily relieving their internal anxiety, depression or other stress. Then, at another time on another day, they impulsively feel the urge to take an item because they again want to feel the “rush” or “high” which had previously given them some relief from their stress. This is how a habit or addiction starts to form.
I have learned how this kind of behavior can be reversed within a relatively short period of time for most people, even if they have shoplifted for several years. This is why I offer my help. I certainly believe that shoplifting offenders should be held accountable for their actions. However, I have also developed a compassion for many people who have needlessly left society, compromised their families and lost their self-respect simply because they have not been taught or learned how to effectively deal with disturbing issues in their life.
My focus is on the rehabilitation of individuals in order to help them regain their life and self-respect. It is not to judge them … since I am not in their shoes. I work only to help individuals personally because I believe that no one really wants to see themselves as a shoplifter … nor does anyone want more trouble in their life than they have already. While I have a deep respect and love for society and the law, my work with individuals is not an attempt to save money for retailers, or enforce the law, or satisfy parents, or improve society. I believe that a strong focus on the individual with “offense-specific” educational rehabilitation will prevent people from shoplifting in the future and thereby serve everyone in society as well.
Because my background is unique, I have walked a path that no one else has walked in the same way. Peter Berlin – Founder of the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention
Now Available – The Hidden Addiction Behind Shoplifting
A Note From the Author
“We probably don’t need to tell you how people’s lives can become complicated and appear to spiral out of control. When the stress becomes too great and a person comes to believe he or she has exhausted their ability to resolve their issues, they begin to feel the need to either forget, avoid, elude, escape, deaden, overlook, repress or substitute something else to relieve their emotional pain. This can lead to Self-Defeating Behavior such as drinking, gambling, overeating, anorexia, bulimia, compulsive shopping, shoplifting, drugs, self-mutilation and more. These Self-Defeating Behaviors are not the real problem but are rather only the symptom of the real problem which is a person’s inability to cope.
However, you and others can simplify the struggles in life. This is because life’s struggles are not the result of the behavior of others but rather your response to the behavior of others. Therefore, the solution to your struggles is always in your hands.
This book identifies the key issues which cause people to act out under stress. It further identifies the false beliefs which created these issues. It describes the way to remove these issues from your life on a permanent basis which will bring you a greater measure of understanding, comfort, stability and happiness for the remainder of their life. This is our wish for you”.
The Hidden Addiction
Table of Contents
|Chapter 1 You’re Big Secret||1|
|Chapter 2 Who Are You?||9|
|Chapter 3 Life Throws Us Curves||21|
|Chapter 4 What Are The Things You Really Need In Your Life?||33|
|Chapter 5 Who and What Can You Trust?||53|
|Chapter 6 You’re “Guidance System”||61|
|Chapter 7 Respect The Things Around You||69|
|Chapter 8 Depression: A Result of Anger||85|
|Chapter 9 Replace False Beliefs With The Real Truth||93|
|Chapter 10 Ongoing Support and Psychotherapy||105|
|Chapter 11 Here Is Your Job For Life||115|
|About the Author||123|
|Complimentary Report: “Why Did You Shoplift?”||129|
|Direct Quotes from Individuals Receiving Telephone Coaching||131|