The Shulman Center 1


    Greetings from The Shulman Center!

Compulsive Theft, Spending & Hoarding Newsletter 

January 2014--Happy New Year!

The Shulman Center Celebrates 10-Year Anniversary!


   Serving People 
Since 1992!



Quotes of the Month


Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right! -- Oprah Winfrey


Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365-page book. Write a good one! -- Brad Paisley


If all you can do is crawl, start crawling. --Rumi


I hope in this year to come, you make mistakes. If you're making mistakes, you're doing something. -- Neil Gaiman


Maybe this year, we ought to not walk through the rooms of our lives looking for flaws. but for potential. --Ellen Goodman


For last year's words belong to last year's language and next year's words await another voice. --T.S. Eliot


The object of a new year is not just to have a new year but rather that we should have a new soul. -- G.K. Chesterton


This is the new year, a new you. You can pass through another year, coasting on cruise control or you can step out of your comfort zone, try things you've never done before and make 2014 the year you elevate yourself and soar. Make it happen! -- Pablo


And Pablo suggests: To make the new year work for you, keep it simple:


1. Count your blessings first

2. Whatever you did last year, do it better;

3. Go step by step, one day at a time; 

4. Create and make your own opportunities; 

5. Believe in your abilities at all times; 

6. Quitting is not an option--keep going!; and

7. Finish what you started!



Stats/Facts of the Month


The National Retail Federation projects that holiday shopping sales for 2013 will have increased 3.9% over 2012 to $602.1 billion.


2013 Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday non-online sales in the U.S. reached $12.3 billion, up 2.3% from 2012.

--CNN Money


2013 Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday online sales in the U.S. reached $1.964 billion, up 18% from 2012.



2013 Cyber Monday sales in the US reached

$2.2 billion, up 15.7% from 2012. --PSFWeb


About one quarter of Americans surveyed recently said that they never miss or usually visit at least one store on Black Friday.


57% of parents in one survey reported that they were going to take on debt over the holidays in order to buy gifts for their kids. Those with household incomes of less than $35,000 said they were willing to take on an average of $700 in debt, while those bringing in $75,000 or more were thinking about $300.


36% of Americans in one survey said that buying presents for loved ones was more important than sticking to a budget or not taking on more credit card debt.


90% of Americans planned to buy gifts this season and 31% approached the task with no predetermined spending limit; 55% of Americans surveyed in September had not yet saved any money for the holiday shopping season.


Sources: Daily Finance



Person of the Month:

 Nelson Mandela  
1918 - 2013)   


When Nelson Mandela passed away on December 5th at age 95, a light went out that was truly special. How many people can you think of who spent 27 years in prison--most in solitary confinement--and, when released, worked to forgive his captors and then became president of his nation? 


I knew very little about Mandela's upbringing which could have predicted his potential for greatness. And, upon learning more in the wake of his death, it still remains a mystery to me. But Mandela--in his humanness--should stand as one of those rare figures like Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr, and a few others who was able to use the power of non-violence and forgiveness to change the arc of history. 


In this age of both domestic as well as international conflicts (not to mention issues we often struggle with in our own personal relationships), we would do well to look to Mandela for inspiration.



Book of the Month:


Why Rich Women Shoplift (When They Have it All!)


John C. Brady


This book on shoplifting was written by John C. Brady, a California forensic psychologist. I wrote the foreword for the book. I haven't seen the actual book as it was just released, but I read the rough draft and it is a very interesting read. 


The book highlights some of Dr. Brady's more interesting cases he's worked on as well as de-constructing the kleptomania definition so we can understand why people really shoplift and steal. Dr. Brady also takes aim at the pharmaceutical industry for their limited treatment of theft behaviors. 


See: Amazon book



Film of the Month:


The Secret Life of 

Walter Mitty

(Ben Stiller) 


My wife and I recently saw a free preview screening of this wonderful new film which is perfect for the holidays and new year. Based upon the 1939 short story of the same name by humorist/satirist James Thurber, it's hard to believe no film version has been made since Danny Kaye starred in the 1947 version.


Ben Stiller stars in and directs this engaging tale of youngish middle-aged man whose work life is mundane and his love-life non-existent. There's no big drama but no real zest. So, he drifts off into daydream states of romance, heroism and adventure. 


Through a string of events and with some prodding of an office crush (played well by Kristen Wiig), "Walter" begins a world-wide search for a missing item needed for him to complete a work project that leads him to also find his own missing pieces. 


Though reviews have been mixed, my wife and I felt the film was visually stunning and creative and blended humor and heart effectively.


As a bonus at our free premiere, we were each asked to write down a dream on a piece of paper we then gave to a collector before we entered the screening room. At the end of the film, they drew the names of an older couple who'd both shared they wanted to have one last great vacation before their health declined more. They were brought down to the front of the auditorium and gifted with a check of sorts to make their dream come true--courtesy of the 20th Century Fox Films.







CONTACT US NOW at 248-358-8508!


Donations may be made payable to "Terrence Shulman/C.A.S.A., LLC" and mailed to PO Box 250008 Franklin, MI 48025 U.S.A. or through PayPal to


Thank you for your consideration!


The Shulman Center on the move and in the news...  


January 2014--Mr. Shulman's second-part article on cultivating honesty/integrity in youth appears in Jack Hayes International quarterly newsletter. See


January 9, 2014--Mr. Shulman will be presenting on hoarding disorder at the Madison Heights (Michigan) Senior Center. 11am - 12noon. Free.


February 8, 2014--Mr. Shulman will be presenting on teaching kids honesty and integrity at the Annual Michigan Father's Conference in Pontiac, MI. $25 incl. lunch. See


February 18, 2014--Mr. Shulman will be co-presenting on hoarding disorder for AAA-1B Agency on the Aging in Southfield, MI. Free.


February 18, 2014--Mr. Shulman will be presenting on hoarding disorder at The Community House in Birmingham, MI. $25.


March 1, 2014--Mr. Shulman will present at The Betty Ford Treatment Center in Rancho Mirage, CA on compulsive theft, spending and hoarding. Free.


March 2014--Mr. Shulman debuts his quarterly column for In Recovery magazine. See


March 7, 2014--Mr. Shulman will be presenting a 4-hour in-depth seminar on understanding and treating hoarding disorder through Core Learning, Inc. in metro-Detroit. Location/time to be announced.


May 14, 2014--Mr. Shulman will be presenting on hoarding disorder to the Oakland County (Michigan) Employee Wellness Program.


July 14-16, 2014--Mr. Shulman to  present on process addictions at the 13th Annual Leadership in Faith Conference in Chicago. 


September 16, 2014--Mr. Shulman to  present on compulsive stealing, spending & hoarding at the Thelma McMillen monthly professional medical lecture series in Torrance, CA. Free.


Follow us regularly on Twitter @terrenceshulman or @TheShulmanCenter and on Facebook at The Shulman Center. Please check out share on our relaunched blog at:


NOTE: If you're a therapist, please consider contacting us to enroll in our brief, affordable local or virtual training to become more proficient at assessing and treating compulsive stealing, spending and/or hoarding disorders. See Training


A recent testimonial from November 2013: 


"Thanks Terry for providing a supportive educational environment that helped my understand and learn more about kleptomania and shoplifting addictions. I look forward to using the tools, resources, and treatment approaches with my clients. This training has helped me gain a better understanding and provided everything I need to treat individuals diagnosed with this disorder."


Melissa Oliver, MA, NCC, LPC 

Pittsburgh, PA 


Happy New Year 2014!

What's in Store for You?


Terrence Shulman


Well, where did the year 2013 go? For some of us, it was a great year, for others--we can't wait to see it over! And, for people like me, it's probably been a little of both.


On the one hand, I'm feeling proud to announce that January 2014 marks the 10-year anniversary of The Shulman Center. Yes, I've survived a decade of entrepreneurship and self-employment! What a wild and wonderful journey it's been!


In checking my 2013 new year's goals and intentions (I prefer those terms to "resolutions"), I feel fairly content with my progress. In a nutshell, I'd hoped to improve my finances, my health (mental & physical), my relationships, and my business. I met with modest success in each realm. As 2014 begins, I wish to focus on and see continued progress in these areas.


Here were The Shulman Center's goals below which we reached in 2013:


1. To help launch more C.A.S.A. (Cleptomaniacs And Shoplifters Anonymous) support groups.

2. To fine-tune our 3-day and 3-month intensive, specialized therapy programs to incorporate what we've learned in the last year. 

3. To expand our visibility and expertise in the area of hoarding disorder assessment and treatment.

4. To compile more data on the effectiveness of our counseling programs.

5. To expand into the field of corporate and loss prevention consulting.


Here are our goals from 2013 which remain works in progress:


6.  To develop and release four 30-minute psycho-educational DVDs on shoplifting, employee theft, shopping/spending, and hoarding).

7. To, by year's end, come up with a concept for a new book to be completed by the end of 2014.

8. To, by year's end, come up with a location for our 4th International Conference on Compulsive Theft, Spending & Hoarding to be held in late 2014.

9. To present at and/or attend various new conferences in new places.

10. To develop a hoarding therapy group locally and/or online.

Here's some early goals for 2014:


-Develop and publicize our non-profit wing, C.A.S.A., LLC to accept donations to help indigent clients.

-Re-boot our blog.

-Increase collaboration with other researches, therapists, and colleagues.

-Increase opportunities to write articles and participate in various media (radio, internet, TV, print)

-Improve balance in work roles (administrative, marketing, and therapeutic)


What about you? What are your goals, hopes and dreams for the new year?


The Language of Letting Go:

Hazelden Meditation Series


Melodie Beattie


Make New Year's goals. Dig within, and discover what you would like to have happen in your life this year. This helps you do your part. It is an affirmation that you're interested in fully living life in the year to come. 


Goals give us direction. They put a powerful force into play on a universal, conscious, and subconscious level. Goals give our life direction.


What would you like to have happen in your life this year? What would you like to do, to accomplish? What good would you like to attract into your life? What particular areas of growth would you like to have happen to you? What blocks, or character defects, would you like to have removed?


What would you like to attain? Little things and big things? Where would you like to go? What would you like to have happen in friendship and love? What would you like to have happen in your family life?


What problems would you like to see solved? What decisions would you like to make? What would you like to happen in your career?


Write it down. Take a piece of paper, a few hours of your time, and write it all down - as an affirmation of you, your life, and your ability to choose. Then let it go. 


The new year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written. We can help write that story by setting goals. 



Swiped! 5 Lessons from The Target Card Breach


Herb Weisbaum | CNBC - December 28, 2013


The theft of 40 million credit and debit card records from Target (TGT) wasn't the biggest or most damaging data breach ever, but coming right before Christmas, it sure did get our attention-and maybe that's good.


Perhaps American consumers needed a slap in the face to focus on the growing problem of financial data theft. Keep in mind: Target was just one of about 600 publicly disclosed data breaches in 2013.


"Any retailer can be hit," said Al Pascual, a senior analyst for security risk and fraud at Javelin Strategy and Research. "People need to protect themselves because sooner or later they're going to be affected, regardless of where they shop."


It's important to understand how debit and credit cards differ when it comes to fraud protection, and what to do if your card information is stolen. Quite frankly, some of the advice given to Target victims was questionable or wrong. Here's what you need to know:


1. Credit cards offer better fraud protection

The most important difference is that credit cards provide better fraud protection than do debit cards.


"If a fraudster steals your credit card number and uses it, they're stealing the bank's money, not your money," said John Ulzheimer with "If a fraudster steals your debit card number and uses it, they're stealing your money and you'll have to argue with the bank to get your money back."


Federal law limits responsibility for unauthorized credit card charges to $50. Visa, MasterCard, Discover  and American Express have "zero liability" policies, so you'll never lose a penny to credit card fraud.


With debit cards, your maximum liability is $50, if you notify the bank within two days. After that it jumps to $500. You could lose all the money thatwas stolen from your checking account if you fail to report the fraud within 60 days of getting your bank statement.


2. Free credit monitoring is nice but won't protect Target victims

We've come to expect free credit after a breach. It's a way for the company to show they care about us.


Credit monitoring can be a useful fraud-fighting tool if someone steals your identifying information, such as date of birth, account passwords or Social Security numbers. That did not happen in this case.


That's because the fraudulent use of your credit card does not trigger an alert on your credit report. And debit card transactions aren't even reported to the credit bureaus.


3. A security freeze won't protect you in this sort of breach

A lot of "experts" advised victims of the Target breach to put a security freeze on their credit report.


When Social Security numbers are stolen, a credit freeze is the smart thing to do. It prevents an identity thief from opening new accounts in your name. But that did not happen here.


"A security freeze doesn't make any sense as a way to respond to this data breach," said Eva Velasquez, president and CEO of the nonprofit Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC). "That's something you typically do after you spot obvious signs of financial fraud."


A freeze prevents lenders from accessing your credit report to process a new loan or credit card application. It does not prevent fraud on an existing account. It will not stop a crook from using a stolen account number to shop online or clone a new debit or credit card to use at the store.


4. Should you change the PIN number on your debit card?

Target confirmed Friday that encrypted PINs were stolen in the breach, though it said the "key" necessary to decrypt data is not within its system and could not have been taken during the breach.


Changing your PIN will prevent a stolen debit card number from being used to withdraw cash at an ATM, but it won't stop a crook from using it to buy things. Debit cards can be used without a PIN at most stores.


To be completely safe, you'll need to ask the bank to issue you a new card number.


5. Is it safer to choose "credit" over "debit" when you use a debit card?

"There is nothing you can do to turn that debit card into a credit card, even if the card has the Visa or MasterCard logo on it," said Bill Hardekopf, CEO and founder of

What you are doing is choosing how that transaction is processed. Does it require a PIN or just a signature to pull that money out of your checking account?


"You're just as vulnerable to a hacker," said Brian Krebs, who broke the Target breach story on his KrebsOnSecurity blog. "Nothing magically happens if you push credit instead of debit that makes it any harder for someone to steal your card information. It's all still ones and zeros on a magnetic strip."


Is more regulation needed?

Consumer groups want Congress to guarantee more fraud protection for debit cardholders but debit cards are not going to go away. 


Best practices for anyone with a credit or debit card

The best way to take responsibility for your financial security is to go online a couple of times a month to check your credit card and checking account statement. Look for any unauthorized charges and report them right away. Don't wait for your end of the month statement.


Take advantage of financial alerts, if available, on your accounts that can give you a heads-up to a possible problem.


"These attacks are affecting retailers of all sizes, and they are going to continue to happen," Pascual said. "Consumers need to remain vigilant and take advantage of any opportunity they have to monitor their accounts and protect themselves."


See rest of article at: Target ID Theft



Paroextine (Paxil) May Help Treat Compulsive Hoarding


Jane Collingwood


(Recent) research has found that certain antidepressants work well to reduce symptoms of compulsive hoarding.


It's very common to have a collection of some kind - acquiring and retaining nonessential objects is nearly universal and found throughout history. But some individuals develop abnormal hoarding behavior. Compulsive hoarding involves collecting or failing to get rid of vast numbers of objects to the point where they cause significant clutter and problems moving around the house, cooking, cleaning or sleeping.


Compulsive hoarders often buy much more than they need, and feel severe anxiety at the thought of discarding these objects. Hoarding is linked to indecisiveness, disorganization and procrastination, and many diseases such as anorexia, schizophrenia, Alzheimer's disease and dementia. It is estimated to affect up to 2 million people in the U.S.


Compulsive hoarding is closely associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), but may be a separate disorder. It is also related to obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, and impulse control disorder, but compulsive hoarders may show no other symptoms of these conditions.


In previous research studies, patients have not responded well to serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SRI)medications often given to people with OCD, but a team from the University of California, San Diego decided to directly test these drugs on hoarders.


Sanjaya Saxena, M.D., and colleagues recruited 79 OCD patients, of whom 32 of had compulsive hoarding syndrome. All participants received paroxetine (Paxil) alone for a mean of 80 days. Both groups "improved significantly with treatment" when tested on OCD symptoms, depression, and anxiety.


"There were no significant differences between groups in the proportions of patients who completed or responded to treatment," the team reported, adding that hoarding symptoms improved as much as other OCD symptoms.


This suggests that SRI medications are effective for compulsive hoarding, the researchers concluded, and they called for further trials of SRI drugs for this condition.


See the rest of this article at: Hoarding Medication



Daily Deals: Are You a Shopping Addict?


Fox Business News Online 12/10/13


Everybody loves a good deal, and thanks to the array of daily deal sites popping up all over the Web, it's never been easier to score savings at restaurants, spas, retailers and even hotel packages...but only for a limited time.


All of these money-saving offers are enticing, and when that countdown clock is ticking, the temptation to snatch up that $4 burrito (regularly $8.50) before the time expires is overwhelming. But as with anything else, daily deals can be too much of a good thing.


"We do have to be careful... I think a lot of people are probably spending more money than they need to," says Terrence Shulman, founder and director of the Detroit-based Shulman Center for Compulsive Spending and author of Bought Out and Spent!. "Shopaholics are vulnerable to this kind of marketing--especially the bargain-hunting kind of shopaholic."


Shulman says daily deals can be a problem for someone who has had trouble with excessive spending in the past because it can be difficult to unsubscribe from the sites once you're a member. Since these deals have a near-ubiquitous presence on social networks and are advertised all over the Web, avoiding them is no simple task.


Before you purchase a daily deal, consider the following points raised by financial experts, who maintain a deal is only "good" when bought in moderation.


Rule No.1: Yes, it's a deal, but can you really afford it?

While this might seem rather obvious, experts say some consumers justify spending too much on a deal thinking it will save money in the long run.


"Budgets are usually busted not by the house or the car payment, it's the superfluous things you buy because you think you're getting a good deal," says Chris Ravsten, the owner of Foxstone Financial, a Denver-based financial investment advisory firm. "It's the same concept as that thing you buy in bulk at Costco or a wholesale club because you think it's such a good deal."


Rule No. 2: Is this a need or a want?

More often than not, we convince ourselves that something is a good buy by justifying it as a necessity, but advisors say it's important to know the difference between a "need" and a "want."

A money-saving deal on groceries might qualify as satisfying a need; four weeks of cooking lessons that might eventually save money on dining out is more of a "want."


"Obviously we all have a lot of 'wants' but usually the 'needs' are the ones that fit into our budget," says Barbara Stark, education director for American Debt Counseling, a Florida-based non-profit credit counselor. "You really have to think logically and fiscally about the purchase, even though that coupon buy window is counting down."


Rule #3: Will you use it before it expires?

No matter how good the deal is, it's worthless if you don't have time to use it before it expires.


Consumers should always read the fine print on any deals before making a purchase. Many offers have to be used within a certain time frame and that may not fit into the buyer's schedule.


Rule #4: What else could you do with the money?

Too often, shoppers don't consider the opportunity cost of spending money on a deal, or whether that money could be better spent on something else.


"As consumers we get into trouble because we think, 'it's just $20.' But $20 over time, day after day month after month, compounded can make a big difference," says Ravsten. "Could you be paying off debt? Saving for short-term emergencies? Not enough of us have enough liquid money on hand."


Rule #5: Will you still want this if you ignore that ticking clock?

The pressure of that countdown clock can motivate consumers to buy something that they wouldn't ordinarily buy, says Shulman, especially with compulsive spenders.


If you have determined a purchase fits within your budget, it's important to think about how soon you will make use of the purchase, says Shulman, since that pressure of the clock can compel consumers to act without thinking of when and how they will actually redeem the coupon.


Rule #6: Is the site you're buying from a reputable one?

The rapid expansion and popularity of daily deal sites can give shoppers a false sense of security about the safety of providing credit card information to any run-of-the-mill deal Web site.


Daily deal shoppers should be cautious and do a quick background check by checking the site out with the Better Business Bureau, or running a quick Google search to look for consumer reviews before giving away personal information.


See: Shopping Addiction


See also recent National Public Radio interview with a young shopaholic at: Teenage Shopaholic


The Bills Americans Pay First


Catey Hill of MarketWatch


If you want to know Americans' priorities, just look at who's got the keys to their hearts: their cars. Unfortunately, that affection can put them on the road to financial ruin.


Americans tend to pay their car loans before their mortgages or credit cards each month, says Steve Chaouki, group vice president in credit bureau TransUnion's financial services business unit. Consider: Among consumers with auto loans, mortgages and credit cards, the 30-day delinquency rate for auto loans was just 0.88% last year, while the rate for credit cards was 1.82% and the rate for mortgages was 1.91%. While overall, those rates have improved since 2009, when the 30-day delinquency rate for auto loans was 1.34%, credit cards 2.82% and mortgages 3.83% - the priorities are still clear: cars, then credit cards, then mortgages. And, says, Chaouki, autos are likely to again lead the pack for 2013.


So what's behind the priority we give to our rides? "Some of this is about freedom," says Kimberly Foss, the founder and president of Roseville, Calif.-based financial planning firm Empyrion Wealth Management. "They feel stuck if they don't have a car, so they pay it first." Joel Ohman, a certified financial planner and founder of, says that this may also have to do with media headlines. "People hear about others who have been late on their mortgage and still kept the house, so they think they can do it too."


Or, it may simply be that Americans love their automobiles. There are more passenger vehicles in this country than licensed drivers, and one in four people considers his or her car "something special" vs. merely a "means of transportation," the Pew Research Center found. 


Many Americans ascribe human characteristics to their cars: 31% say they think of their car as having a personality - with those ages 18 to 29 dominating that group (41% of them think their ride has a personality). What's more, the love affair is likely to progress: Transunion predicts that auto loan debt per borrower will jump more than $1,000 from a projected $16,942 in the fourth quarter of 2013 to $17,966 in same period in 2014.


On its surface, this devotion to car payments may not seem to be a problem, but financial experts say that consumers have their priorities wrong. "It's a huge mistake to pay off the car first," says Ted Jenkin, a certified financial planner and founder of Atlanta-based financial services firm oXYGen. Consumers should instead first set aside money for necessities, says Kimberly Foss, the founder and president of Roseville, Calif.-based financial planning firm Empyrion Wealth Management. 


"Pay for food and essential medical care, housing and related utilities, and transportation - in that order," she says. "It about survival." Once you've paid for those items - which should account for about 50% of your monthly spending - prioritize things like alimony, child support and taxes, which you can go to jail for not paying, as well as other debts like credit cards, Foss says.


Some experts point out that, if you can't pay all your bills, prioritizing credit cards over both auto loans and mortgages is a mistake as well. The reason is that auto loans and mortgages are secured debts - meaning that the lender can take back the asset that's backing the loan (in these cases, your car or your home) if you don't pay.


Of course, that's not to say you should skip the credit card payment either. Experts say you should pay at least the minimum, or more if you can, on all debts each month to avoid dinging your credit score. But if you find yourself in a situation where some bills might have to fall through the cracks, call the creditors and see what you can work out, says Jenkin. "They are for-profit companies and they don't want to get nothing," he says. "It's better to call in advance and see if you can work something out - just be sure to get it in writing."



Christmas Five-Finger Discount

For Shoplifters Seeking Holiday High


Ben Popken ( 12/24/13


Shoplifting incidents rise around the holidays, and experts say the culprits are often seeking an emotional boost. In this photo illustration, two women steal electronics. Editor's note: The subjects' faces have been intentionally blurred.


Everyone needs a little boost to beat the holiday blues. For some during a down economy, it's shoplifting.


Retailers call it "shrinkage," the loss of inventory from the store shelves or storage from sticky-fingered shoppers and employees. The total cost to retailers last year was $112 billion, including losses from employee and supplier fraud, and organized retail crime gangs, according to the 2012-2013 Global Retail Theft Barometer.


And it goes up during the holidays, but not because thieves are trying to make Santa's bag bigger. Experts say that most thieves are in it for themselves.


The thought going through a shoplifter's head is simple: "This is the time of year when we gift others, so we should gift ourselves as well," said Robert McCrie, a professor of security management. "People tend to shoplift for themselves, not to find gifts for other people."


According to an analysis of the most recently available FBI data, conducted by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice on behalf of NBC News, national shoplifting arrests averaged 80,889 during November and December 2011, an 8.95 percent increase over the prior two months, and higher than the non-seasonal average of 71,073 offenses. 


"Within a general trend of annual increases in shoplifting arrests, the FBI data show that the total arrests in November and December in 2011 were up 9 to 14 percent, nationally and regionally," said Margaret Smith, a research associate at the Institute for Criminal Justice Ethics at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. "The difference in the holiday-months increases in the number of arrests is statistically significant, when compared with the monthly average for all of 2011."


Previous years saw increases in shoplifting offenses during the holidays as well, with a 5.27 percent increase during the same period in 2009 and a 7.25 percent increase in 2007. Actual numbers are likely higher, as retailers during the busy holiday shopping season might choose to simply photograph shoplifters, take the merchandise back, and let them go, said Smith.


And as the economy weakened, shoplifting increased. From 2005 to 2012, annual shoplifting offenses rose from 698,233 to 997,739, according to the FBI, a nearly 43 percent increase.


Experts say that most shoplifters know what they're doing isn't right, but are compelled to steal anyway.


That excuse can be anything from the senior citizen who feels being a regular customer justifies her palming a bottle of Tylenol to supplement her $50 per week grocery budget, to a small business owner who feels everyone takes from him in his life, so what if he takes a little something for himself?


This season, with its focus on selfless giving, can exacerbate tensions for those who feel like they're already getting the short end of the stick.


But while getting over on a perceived injustice might be what tempts a first-time shoplifter, it's the high stealing gives them that keeps them coming back, experts say. The ride of fear and, if they don't get caught, victory, can trigger a dopamine rush that fills a void in their brain's chemistry.


It becomes a button they want to hit again and again.


"Many become addicted to shoplifting like a drug," said Terrence Shulman, founder of The Shulman Center for Compulsive Theft, Spending and Hoarding.


Alfred K., a 38-year-old dentist from Pennsylvania, who asked that his last name be withheld, says he wishes he had been addicted to something else, like alcohol or sex. "At least it would make sense," he said.


The dentist, who says he no longer shoplifts, said he got started six years ago. While returning a pack of the wrong kind of nails to Home Depot, he first got a new pack from the shelf. The return clerk scanned and gave him credit for both. He let her make the mistake, he said.


"It was kind of exciting for me, I was kind of getting free money for nothing," said Alfred K. Noticing a crack in the system, he returned week after week to leverage it. He started off small, just a few bucks here and there, then graduated to bigger items. Eventually, he said, "I just started walking out the store with things."


He also expanded to other stores. One of his arrests was at Best Buy after he placed a serial number sticker from an old Wii on a new one and tried to return it for $249. A misdemeanor charge led to his dentist license being put on probation. He lost his job. All told, he estimates his compulsion cost him over $100,000 in attorney fees and lost income.


Growing up, he said, his Syrian immigrant parents didn't have much. His dad, ex-military, let the kids have one toy a year. "One time it was a girl's toy. I remember getting a pink car." And you had to be thankful for it, he said.


Now, he said, "My 6-year-old is asking for an iPad for Christmas."


The holidays are especially tough times for shoplifters, said Alfred K.


"We spend so much on the holidays that I'm looking for ways to save. What's the easiest way to save but to steal? Sounds stupid, but that's how I justified it," he said.

It's not that shoplifters don't believe it's better to give than to receive. It's just that they feel like they're never on the receiving end, so they make sure they take care of themselves too.


See: Holiday Shoplifting High



Spotlight: "In Recovery" Magazine


There's a wonderful relatively new quarterly recovery magazine I want to let you know about. It's called "In Recovery." Founded 2 years ago by Kim Welsh, a recovering person herself, in Prescott, Arizona--home to many treatment centers and half-way houses, this magazine has something for everyone. I visited Kim in October 2013 and was honored to be invited to write a regular column about process/behavioral addictions--starting Spring 2014.


The magazine is available in hard copy as well as online at:



3rd Millenium STOPLifting Online Education Course!


3rd Millenium Classrooms out of San Antonio, TX has been offering high-quality online education courses for alcohol, marijuana and shoplifting issues for many years now. I've been honored to help them fine-tune and update their shoplifting course which many are court-ordered to complete after an arrest.

3rd Millennium Classroom's STOPLifting is an online intervention course designed to assist shoplifters in examining and altering their attitudes and behaviors towards shoplifting. The course incorporates evidential examples and related follow-up questions to discover the student's motives behind shoplifting, reveal possible patterns in his or her behaviors, and identify potential triggers and ways to cope. Through STOPLifting's unique motivational interviewing style, students are encouraged to evaluate the personal consequences of shoplifting and how they affect the individual, his or her family and those around him or her. 






Honesty is its own reward.--Anonymous


Walk in peace.



The Shulman Center 2014 Ongoing Events Calendar


Ongoing ...


The Baton Rouge, Louisiana court system has a court-ordered, facilitated educational program for retail fraud offenders. The program is based on material from Mr. Shulman's book Something for Nothing: Shoplifting Addiction and Recovery.


Mr. Shulman created a 1-hour employee theft online course with360 Training. Learn why people steal from their jobs, how to deter it, prevent it, and what to do when confronted with it. Enroll at:


Mr. Shulman created an online continuing education course on compulsive shopping and spending called Bought Out and $pent! based on his book and Power Point presentation. The course, CEs offered, through The American Psychotherapy Association. at:





If you're a therapist and wish to be trained & certified in the assessment/treatment of compulsive theft, spending and/or hoarding, CONTACT THE SHULMAN CENTER NOW! See:


3rd Millenium Classrooms out of San Antonio, TX has been offering high-quality online education courses for alcohol, marijuana and shoplifting issues for many years now. I've been honored to help them fine-tune and update their shoplifting course which many are court-ordered to complete after an arrest. Please check out their courses on their website at:



There's a wonderful relatively new quarterly recovery magazine I want to let you know about. It's called "In Recovery." Founded 2 years ago by Kim Welsh, a recovering person herself, in Prescott, Arizona--home to many treatment centers and half-way houses, this magazine has something for everyone. I visited Kim in October 2013 and was honored to be invited to write a regular column about process/behavioral addictions--starting Spring 2014.The magazine is available in hard copy and online at:



Tom Lietaert of Sacred Odyssey and the Intimacy with Money programs offers individual money coaching as well as various group workshops on money. Check out Tom's two websites at: /



Gary Zeune of Columbus, Ohio has been a friend and colleague of mine for nearly two years. He has been a consultant and teacher on fraud discovery and prevention for nearly 30 years. He is interviewed in my book Cluttered Lives, Empty Souls: Compulsive Theft, Spending & Hoarding. I recently saw Gary in action recently when he presented an all-day on fraud to metro-Detroit accountants. See:



Debbie Roes is an educator and recovering shopaholic and offers a free insightful blog and e-Newsletter to help you. See:



I recently was told about a website resource that lists strategies for cleaning and de-cluttering and sells various books and products that help with this; so, I'm passing it along... See:



Mr. Shulman's books

available for purchase now!




Something for Nothing: 

Shoplifting Addiction and Recovery (2003) 

See also:






Biting The Hand That Feeds 

Biting The Hand That Feeds:

The Employee Theft Epidemic... New Perspectives, New Solutions (2005) 

See also:





Bought Out and Spent 

Bought Out and $pent! 

Recovery from Compulsive $hopping/$pending (2008) 

See also:





CLES cover 

Cluttered Lives, Empty Souls: 

Compulsive Stealing, Spending and Hoarding (2011) 

See also:




Contact The Shulman Center:


Terrence Daryl Shulman, JD, LMSW, ACSW, CAADC, CPC  


The Shulman Center for Compulsive Theft, Spending & Hoarding


P.O. Box 250008 

Franklin, Michigan 48025




Call (248) 358-8508 for a free consultation!



Our Web Sites:

The Shulman Center

Shoplifting Addictions

Kleptomaniacs Anonymous

Something For Nothing

Shopping Addictions 

Shopaholics Anonymous

Bought Out and Spent 

Employee Theft Solutions

Biting the Hand that Feeds

Hoarding Therapy

Hoarders Anonymous


Books by Terrence Shulman: 


Something for Nothing:Shoplifting Addiction and Recovery

Biting The Hand That Feeds:The Employee Theft Epidemic

Bought Out and $pent! Recovery from Compulsive $hopping and $pending

Cluttered Lives Empty Souls: Compulsive StealingSpending and Hoarding


All book are available for $25.00 each (includes shipping and handling).