The coronavirus pandemic has had an impact on people from all walks of life. It has created new realities for all of us but for some the impact has been particularly profound. NASP Executive Director Caroline Kochman noted, “We see the impact in the comments of the offenders we educate and in the increase in calls for assistance from our criminal justice partners—in the call for reduced and waived fees for the vulnerable and for people coping with a frightening new reality.”
“It’s a very stressful time for me and my wife. I had lost my job and were in need of food for my five children. I tried going to food banks, asking friends and family for help but to no luck, so I took a risk and shoplifted.” – Jonathan caught at Walmart
One of the first actions of the recently launched National Shoplifting Prevention Coalition (NSPC)—announced just 6 months before we learned of the coronavirus threat— was to establish an Education Support Fund. Its aim is to ensure that both offenders and communities in need can have access to the education necessary to prevent repeat shoplifting offenses—a critical factor in reducing the cost to retailers’ bottom lines.
As one of the founding service providers in the coalition, Detex is leading the way. A generous grant from Detex in support of offender education has allowed NASP to answer the call for assistance from its criminal justice clients and provide education to many of the most vulnerable offenders, including an at-risk youth from New Jersey and a single mother from Texas.
“I was temporarily laid off from work. I had lack of money and needed to conserve money but provide food for my household during stressful times.” – Courtney caught at Kroger
The youth from New Jersey is in foster care, has an ADHD diagnosis, and is on the autism spectrum. Because of several recent incidents, there was talk of placing the youth out of his home. This young person’s participation in the Youth Educational Shoplifting Program, which was fully funded by the Detex grant, helped get him on the right path, thus preventing another trauma for this vulnerable youth during these already scary times.
The single mom from Texas has two small children. Her financial situation had recently worsened due to the death of her husband from Covid-19. In this case, the grant assisted this young mother in meeting her responsibilities, completing the required SA course education and preventing a repeat offense.
“Detex is a proud supporter of the NSPC and its shoplifter education fund,” said Detex’s Tim Shafer. “Seeing the impact of our grant in human terms is truly profound. Many more shoplifters than we realize are just people struggling in life who simply need a leg up to turn them away from a life of shoplifting and crime. Providing that leg up is good corporate citizenship. it’s a benefit to them, to retailers, and to our society.”
“I lost my job. I felt alone and stressed, and I needed things and didn’t have the money so that’s why I did it. I am so ashamed of myself, and it will never happen again.” – Ella caught at Target