Doubly illegal: Qualitative accounts of underage alcohol access through theft

Saturday, February 18, 2017

In addition to 9% of respondents who reported stealing alcohol from commercial outlets themselves, a total of 26% respondents reported occasions when their close friends stole alcohol. Our findings unveiled that teens had a body of knowledge that some drew upon for stealing alcohol. Youths revealed detailed knowledge about store layout, theft protection devices and store policies. In particular, respondents disclosed knowledge about which aisles have blind spots, how to remove security tops on bottles, and no-chase policies.
 
As one 17 year old female described: “in a liquor store the cashier’s gonna be watching you and in a big supermarket it’s more open. [...] it’s just some open place and there’s no one around, you can just steal it more easily than in a small business.”
 
Youths also reported knowing the layout of large commercial stores, in particular the locations of security cameras and blind sports. Youths used blind spots to slip a bottle of alcohol into a pocket or backpack unnoticed. A 17 year old boy discussed how he and his friend strategized: “We had a whole system. As it turns out, the only aisle in every store that doesn’t have security cameras is the pet food aisle. So my friend looks really old, and I’d have the backpack. He’d go and he’d grab the handle [1.75 liter liquor bottle], walk into the pet food aisle, put it into my backpack and we’d walk out.”