Ronan Ghosh, the millionaire 39-year-old owner of RG Recycling in Solihull, has pleaded guilty to having stolen wine and meat from a branch of Tesco in Birmingham. CCTV footage showed him putting £200-worth of meat and expensive wine into a bag, before paying for other items in his trolley at the checkout. He was stopped at the door, where his bag was searched, and police were called.
The Daily Mail reported that the judge gave him a 12-month community order, ordered him to do 80 hours of unpaid work, and made him pay £575 costs.
The motivation for the theft is hard to fathom. After-all, his business turns over £16 million a year, his home is worth £500,000, and he owns two BMWs, so clearly he wasn't driven by financial need.
The Birmingham Mail reported that he told the court that on the day of the theft his mother had been diagnosed with skin cancer. There was also a will being discussed in the family, which had put him under more strain, and he went to the supermarket immediately after an argument with his girlfriend. He told the court he hadn't intended to steal anything.
Research by the Global Retail Theft Barometer and Checkpoint Systems suggests there could be a new kind of middle class shoplifter emerging after the financial crisis, who steal to maintain their lifestyle when their income falls. However, this doesn't explain why well-off people shoplift, and psychologists suggest there is something far more complicated at the root of the crime.
Ghosh is not the first person to have been caught shoplifting, whose motivation doesn't appear financial. Perhaps most famously, Chef Anthony Warrall Thomson was cautioned by police after stealing cheese, onions and coleslaw in 2012. He said at the time that he had no financial need to do it, and had no idea what had driven him
A study back in 2001 by Michael Douglas Geyer interviewed 116 first-time shoplifters who were equally in the dark about their motivation, and discovered that many of them experienced some kind of loss before the incident.
Dr Will Cupchik, author of Why Honest People Shoplift or Commit other Acts of Theft, says that unresolved losses are the driver for many atypical shoplifters. People have turned to shoplifting in the same way that others turn to binge-eating or drinking, as an inappropriate way to deal with loss. It gives them a temporary high that blocks out whatever it is in their life that's causing them distress.
Of course, as Ghosh has found, this temporary high, can easily be followed by the kind of consequences that cause them even more distress.
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