Tumblr Fosters Bling Ring-y Group of Shoplifters

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Photo: A24 Films

Today's community of brazen, remorseless shoplifters has its home on Tumblr: Kate Dries of Jezebel reports that there's a fervent online community built around bragging about theft, listing purloined items, and tallying their hypothetical retail value. The most fascinating thing about this community is that the way they do (or do not) believe internet publicity is a good thing for an enterprising young shoplifter.

When some of the Tumblrs were “outed” to the general public last week, a handful were thrilled to be recognized. For example, New Lifterr posted, "i just realized that the post called us tumblrs bling ring and i'm even more flattered. i'm famous. for free." Others were mad they weren't on the list, notes Dries. Then there are a few who voiced concern, like Lil Lifter: "sometimes im really afraid that the shoplifting community will be outed and become like a viral joke on the internet or something ... imagine the embarrasment if you are identified and everyone at school/work and your neighbours and family finds out" [sics throughout].  This has led to conversations about whether real names or selfies are good ideas or bad ideas.

All of this is an interesting twist on the principle — gleaned from heist movies, pirate movies, mafia movies, etc. — that the best thieves are ones you have never heard of.

Meanwhile, some are protecting themselves through hilarious verbal tricks. Surely no outsider will understand what's going on ("what would they be doing in the shoplifing tag anyways lol") if the shoplifters just use a rapid succession of hashtags: #shoplifting #fivefingerdiscount #roleplay #shopliftingcommunity #disclaimer #disclaimers #fakeblog. Fake! See? Clever evasion.