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Monday, May 5, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Elderly Shoplifters

     Although retail stores once tolerated shoplifting among the elderly, some big-box stores have installed zero-tolerance policies for the crime, which has led to the arrest of more seniors for stealing everything from dentures and hearing-aid batteries to fruit. Whatever kinds of things elderly people shoplift, their crime incites more than its share of rage and suspicion.

     In 2009, Ella Orko, eighty-six-years-old, was arrested for shoplifting at a Chicago supermarket. It was her sixty-first arrest since 1956. The police referred to her as both a "career" shoplifter and a "habitual" shoplifter. Among the items Orko shoplifted were wrinkle cream, canned salmon, instant coffee, and batteries. Over the course of her life, she had assumed at least fifty aliases….

     At sentencing, Orko rolled into court in a wheelchair wearing a neck brace and pleading deafness, although when arrested two days earlier, she was wheelchair-and neck-brace-free. The judge, who wore hearing aids on both ears, sentenced her to time served in light of her advanced age.

Rachel Shteir, The Steal, 2011 

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