Lindsay Lohan

Lindsay Lohan has to go to anti-shoplifting classes? What do they teach you, how to pay for stuff?
—Alice, via the inbox

Indeed, part of Lohan's penance for that necklace-napping incident involves taking a class on how not to steal stuff. I was curious about what goes on in those gatherings, too...

... so I called Barbara Staib, director of the communications at the National Association of Shoplifting Prevention. Staib's group offers programs for offenders, including court-ordered classes similar to the one Lohan may have to take. She says the program focuses on treatment, getting first-time offenders to realize why they steal and why they shouldn't do it again.

"The classes we run are designed to help people if they are truly petty theft offenders, not professional shoplifters or people who shoplift to support a drug habit," Staib tells me. "They're shoplifting because of something going on with their lives, or something they perceive to be missing from their lives."

In that sense, the classes are much like the programs offered to recovering alcoholics, gamblers, overeaters and the like.

The classes also make it clear how damaging shoplifting can be, and not just for the offenders who may have to go to jail or pay steep fines.

"In most cases, [offenders] view the stores as a big corporate entities with millions of billions of dollars," Staib says. "But you're also hurting individuals. People who work at these stores could lose their jobs because of your actions."

As for Lohan, let's remember that she lives in a rarified world. Celebrities routinely leave stores with merchandise with the understanding that their manager will soon call with a credit card number, or that the item will be put on a celebrity's tab, or that the item is a gift, or a loan.

If that's the source of Lohan's theft, it would be addressed in a program like this, Staib says. "That's a major sense of entitlement," she notes. "She would have to figure out, why she thinks this way, why she thinks the rules don't apply to her."

As for cost, such programs, which usually involve a home study component and possibly one day-long class, usually set an offender back no more than $85. Let's hope Lohan can still afford to spend that much.

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