Theft Shoplifting Stealing Burglary  Car Theft
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About THEFT TALK Online Services

a Nonprofit Corporation

Welcome to THEFT TALK Online Services™
"THEFT TALK"™, was founded in 1983.
Our mission statement is,
"To change the way

people think about stealing."

Over the years, "THEFT TALK" has received national recognition in magazines such as Seventeen, The Lookout, The Business Journal, Consumer Reports' Zillions Magazine, The New Yorker and Counseling Today. HBO and MSNBC have  featured our services.  US News and World Report did a story on "THEFT Talk" in October 2008.

The underlying concepts of "THEFT TALK"™ Counseling Service originated between 1975 and 1983. Two Juvenile Court Counselors, Steve Houseworth and Patrick Murphy, felt ineffective as they worked within the juvenile justice system and set out to improve their skills. Originally while dealing with juvenile offenders, these men, like the majority of correctional personnel, focused on the deed, stressed consequences and assumed the offender knew what was wrong with stealing. Later, out of personal interest and frustration at watching offenders recycle themselves, they decided to specialize in theft counseling. "THEFT TALK's"™ theory and philosophy is outlined in our approach page.

For a comparison Steve and Patrick began to conduct research with non-delinquent youth and responsible adults. Rather than find a disparity in values and attitudes among the various groups, they discovered a pattern of responses so similar, they were forced to conclude this problem of theft is so ingrained in today's society its essence is rarely addressed or understood. Basically what we as a society have taught people is "don't get caught, get good."

Thousands of theft offenders later, this exciting program has undergone many changes. Feeling the results of their study and research was too important to keep to themselves, Steve and Patrick founded a corporation, "THEFT TALK"™ Counseling Service Inc., a nonprofit corporation. Since March of 1983 "THEFT TALK"™ Counseling Service Inc. has been a nonprofit corporation and actively involved in theft diversion and prevention counseling throughout Oregon. More recently, the "THEFT TALK"™ Counseling Service Inc. Board of Director's business plan calls for a nationwide presence. To that end the Board was made aware of, and approved, of a plan to create "THEFT TALK" Online Services.

Our staff are frequently ask how we talk people out of stealing. Our answer to this question is that we do not try to talk people out of stealing. Instead, we recognize that we cannot control their behavior nor make their decisions for them. Further, we realize that threatening, trying to scare, or educating on the possible consequences of stealing has continuously proven to be an ineffective intervention. We find our clients are much less resistant once they learn we do not judge them and we genuinely admit our position of powerlessness. A pleasant benefit of this position is that it diffuses the more traditional power struggle between "The System" and "The Offender".

Our position is that it is undesirable and unrealistic for our communities to have cameras, police, security tags, mirrors, etc., everywhere in a persons world. Though this approach proves very effective for individual merchants, it has very little effect on the motivations of those who are inclined to steal or shoplift, (they simply choose a different store).

We believe the pursuit of self pleasure appears to be a very human trait. With this in mind, and without human intervention, stealing should predictably be a world wide phenomenon, (as it is). Further, living in a country which cherishes its freedom of choice, or one which has few social boundaries, would likely demonstrate higher incidences of theft.

Instead of thinking about stealing as a behavior that does not make sense, we have been successful at trying to understand how it does make sense - at least to the theft offender. Our human intervention is to encourage our clients to examine their own thinking, their attitudes and beliefs.

We try to get our clients to understand how stealing makes (or made) sense to them. "THEFT TALK"™, while continuing to respect the autonomy of the individual, focuses on THINKING. We tell our clients they do not need to agree with anything we say. We only ask that they take the time to understand. At the point where we accept and respect one another we are well positioned to look for thinking errors and for the client to examine his or her own attitudes, values and beliefs. Once this genuine inventory and examination has been completed the client is well positioned to be able to self correct - IF, he or she chooses.

"THEFT TALK" Counseling Service uses an evidence based cognitive restructuring approach in all of the services it offers.  Though our class material is heavily laced with content which addresses thinking errors, the classes are not marketed as "thinking error" classes.  If the person referring is wanting the client to be exposed to a class which introduces thinking errors and focuses on the different types of thinking errors our theft class would not meet that standard.  If, however, the referring person wants the person being referred to be exposed to specific thinking errors (and omissions) related to stealing and to have those thinking errors confronted and corrected, then our programs and services meet that standard quite well.

Some of the key thinking errors focused on in the "THEFT TALK" curriculum deal with the offenders focus on trying not to get caught, an attempt to avoid punishment vs impact on the victim as the primary force driving decision making, "License", the thinking a person has which gives him/her permission to steal, Circular Thinking (failure to think of the victim), empathy development and developing an in depth understanding as to why stealing is wrong and an aggressive confrontation regarding an introspective character assessment.

As you can probably tell by now, the theory, philosophy and techniques of "THEFT TALK"™ are quite unique, specialized and effective. The primary intervention used is referred to as cognitive restructuring.

Again, welcome to the "THEFT TALK" Online Services web page. Please take the time to peruse all our pages, we think they will prove to be of interest to you.


The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.

Walden, Henry David Thoreau


Last updated: December 29, 2013->->->-




THEFT TALK -- since 1983  

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