Photographed by Molly DeCoudreaux.
You know those YouTube "haul" videos, where people dump giant shopping bags onto their beds and gleefully show off their purchases for the camera? Ever wish you could take part in these giddy paeans to consumerist triumph, but lack the necessary funds? Well, now, there's a way for the broke, the cheap, and the just-plain-law-breaking to get in on the fun, too. Turns out, there is a community of young thieves who brag about their five-finger hauls for a like-minded audience. And, they're doing it not in some deep web where the Feds can't see (and prosecute). They're doing it on Tumblr. Because of course they are.
Jezebel's Kate Dries reports that the so-called "Tumblr bling ring" was outed by user We-Unhallowed last week in a post titled "For your hate-scrolling pleasure." There followed a list of shoplifters' Tumblr blogs with names ranging from the cutesily blunt KleptoBunny and IStealShit, to the dreamy LiftingLately, the euphemistic TheThrifterss, and the so-Tumblr-it-hurts Lift-Witch. The blogs share shoplifting tips, including how to use desensitizing magnets and which stores to hit, and post photos of their shoplifting takes in "things organized neatly"-style photos, complete with the total retail value of the take. And, like any other Tumblr community, they support each other in their Tumblr-y way, with the most desirable hauls having a host of likes and reblogs.
Many blogs post disclaimer language ranging from the sarcastic ("This is all fake, I just want to be one of the cool kids.") to the faux-legalistic ("This blog is all fiction. I role-play. Any resemblance to actual events is completely coincidental, and I do not condone any illegal activities."). But, amongst each other, they rationalize their behavior by saying they "deserve nice things" and compare their crimes favorably to "illegal drugs, murder, and rape." They describe their loot in terms of frugality, like bizarro-world extreme couponers. "Saved $1,418.13 dollars as of Feb 16th," one blog description reads. "We don't steal, we thrift," asserts another. The sense of entitlement is palpable. One pair of lifters posted their massive multi-store haul of Target leggings, Dunkin' Donuts coffee, Slim Jims (really), and Malibu-brand mango rum, and bemoaned that the grand total was just under $1000.
As fascinating as all this is for the outsider, it's probably a good thing to remember that shoplifting isn't the carefree fashion-lovin' lark these people make it out to be. It's a crime that costs retailers about $13 billion per year. But, maybe more importantly, it's a compulsive behavior that can be linked to depression for many young women. And, for some people, it can become addictive. The fact that it can also land you in the clink makes these enabling communities dangerous for the members they claim to support, much like pro-Ana groups. We won't pretend we don't remember the giddy thrill of showing off a palmed lipstick to a friend. We're just glad we couldn't broadcast our successes or crowdsource tips back then. Like EDs, shoplifting is one of those things that doesn't pay to become a pro at. (Jezebel)