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Treating Sticky Fingers: An Evaluation of Treatment and Education for Shoplifters

NCJ Number
Journal of Offender Rehabilitation Volume: 38 Issue: 3 Dated: 2004 Pages: 49-68
Gail A. Caputo
Date Published
20 pages
This report presents findings from an evaluation of STOP (Shoplifter/Theft Offender Program), a classroom-based program for adult shoplifters on probation that provides education and esteem-building treatment to facilitate productive self-improvement.
Begun in a medium-sized south Texas city in March 1997, STOP is designed to encourage shoplifters to make positive changes in their lives, attitudes, and relationships to discourage a return to shoplifting and other criminal and destructive behaviors. The program targets amateur shoplifters who do not suffer from kleptomania and generally do not plan offenses, but who act rationally, stealing for their own consumption or giving away merchandise to others; they are also infrequently involved in shoplifting. They are not motivated to make a financial living through theft and usually have less-developed criminal histories. The evaluation used a quasi-experimental design with a treatment group composed of all 224 offenders ordered to participate in STOP over the first 17 months of program operation. During this period, 12 STOP classes were held. The population of 311 shoplifters placed on probation during the 1 year preceding the implementation of STOP was identified. From this group, a 75-percent random sample was drawn to yield 245 cases for the comparison group. Two sets of existing data were collected: probationer case file information that pertains to both treatment and comparison groups (alcohol and substance abuse assessments, current offense and criminal history, basic demographics, and probation completion), as well as STOP program-recorded information for the treatment group (pretest and posttest scores on the program achievement test, attendance, and completion). The study found that STOP is being used for the correct target population, and the treatment group did well in the program, completing it at high rates with favorable test scores and positive retention of course material. Several factors correlated with program completion, including prior drug use and juvenile incarceration. Exposure to STOP played a role in the successful completion of probation. Shoplifters ordered to STOP completed probation at higher rates than comparison group subjects. 11 tables and 33 references