Service of an Honor System in the Face of Record Shoplifting

October 18th, 2021

Categories: Honor Code, Shoplifting, Stealing, Transportation

Honor systems must be on my mind–I just wrote about some in May–“Service of Unmasking the Honor System: Do I Trust My Fellow Citizens?” There are countless schools, colleges and universities that follow honor codes impacting social and scholastic behavior. During an NPR fundraiser listeners were told they are on the honor system to contribute if they tune in to the programs.

Statistics such as the record number of shoplifting incidents since 1995 in NYC this year fly in the face of an honor code. As of mid September there were 26,386 complaints, a 38 percent increase since 2014. referenced the New York Post for this information.

It also reported on a shoplifter the Post called “Man of Steal,” who only now is in jail after 45 previous shoplifting arrests just this year. He’s 22 and has been caught in 74 offences in the past six. The manager of a Walgreens drugstore that he’s targeted countless times said corporate policy is to call 911 and otherwise do nothing to stop shoplifters.

Image by moakets from Pixabay

Before you smirk, as some friends would, saying: “What do you expect, it’s NYC?” take a look at what Lukas I. Alpert reported on “A father-daughter duo from Atlanta has been sentenced to more than five years in prison for deploying an army of professional shoplifters to steal millions of dollars of merchandise from retailers such as CVS and Target and then selling the goods online.” This group headed by Robert Whitley, 70, and his daughter, Noni Whitley, 47, are said to have stolen $6.1 million before they were arrested two years ago.

And Neil Vigdor reported in The New York Times that Walgreens closed five stores in San Francisco because of “organized shoplifting.”

Yet the Metropolitan Transit Authority [MTA] counts on passengers paying for rides on the honor system on certain bus routes. We purchase a ticket from a kiosk [photo below]. The driver collects nothing. When first instituted passengers were checked for receipts by people at bus stops. I haven’t seen one of these checkers in years.

Last week a woman dressed in a cotton NYU Langone hospital uniform, [the hospital is nearby], rushed to the kiosk for a receipt as the bus was already at the stop. I thought, “What makes some people responsible and others constantly looking to scam the system?” I’ve never found the answer. Have you?

NYC bus ticket kiosk

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14 Responses to “Service of an Honor System in the Face of Record Shoplifting”

  1. ASK Said:

    Not enough prosecutions for such crimes and too much of a sense of entitlement thanks to many politicians, “wokeness,” and helicopter parents.

  2. Hussein Ahman-Uttah Said:

    Those seeking to expand their businesses in this way in the current economic climate are, in the immortal words of the Qu’ran, taking enterprise to a whole new level. I personally remain unconvinced that this was an original rationale for the burqu’a

  3. BC Said:

    Thieves everywhere! That has been going on for centuries.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Can’t argue with any of your good points. What I am about to write is not PC: We seem to be busy righting past wrongs while ignoring current ones. And with the exception of sugary Hallmark productions and Kindness Challenge Facebook postings popular culture doesn’t involve what’s considered goody two shoes stories and behavior.

  5. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I like your sense of humor and can’t think of a response other than thanks for the chuckle.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I know. Depressing.

  7. Linda Levi Said:

    Linda on Facebook: Proper parenting to begin with but no doubt there are a host of issues that lead to the wrong behavior. Apparently so much ice cream stolen from drugstores (CVS, Duane Reade) recently it’s now in locked cases requiring clerk assistance.

  8. Debbie Kunen Said:

    Debbie on Facebook: Unfortunately No consequences = No change in behavior. Very sad and very very scary

  9. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Some people follow a philosophy of what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine. I once worked with someone who would change the price of honey by switching price stickers–this was before bar codes–because he thought the grocery store charged too much for it. He didn’t consider this stealing.

    Glad to know the bus police are back again.

  10. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Scary is the operative word. And when people cheat retailers and the bus company and countless other businesses such as insurance guess who pays? We do.

  11. Lucrezia Said:

    Lucrezia on Facebook: There is no answer. Some of the most charming people are accomplished thieves. It’s often human gullibility which leads to their success. Then again, it’s often suspicion followed by curiosity which brings about their downfall. Some of us are born that way, regardless of upbringing or social status.

  12. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I wish it wasn’t so. Rehab impossible–sad.

    I can’t erase the memory of that hospital employee who works so hard for her money—standing or walking most of the day perhaps in an operating room or as a nurse going room to room— running to pay her bus fare possibly missing the bus to do the right thing.

  13. Martha T Takayama Said:

    I certainly don’t know the answer. I love the humor of Hussain’s response. I also may sound like a broken record, but I think that the last administration and the continuing insanely false claims about everything that is not to their liking, and the “big steal” by what is now the Republican party and the criminals that continue to flourish in Congress unchecked certainly must reinforce any kind of lawlessness including shoplifting!

  14. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Could be the past administration though I also think it’s a human condition and some will flaunt the law no matter what. That it takes 46 offenses to land in jail is a disgrace and disrespectful of retailers who must put up with–and lose to–the shoplifters. And that has to do with the police.

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