Five convicted shoplifters are learning what Lindsay Lohan already knows: getting caught stealing is a great way to attract fame. For the fourth consecutive Christmas, the Staten Island Mall is showing a digital ad featuring the mugshots of five convicted shoplifters, running on a loop on kiosks in the mall. The thieves aren't named, but on New Year's Day they'll be herded into stocks outside the mall, where shoppers will be encouraged to throw rotten eggs and moldy fruit at them. CORRECTION: That's not true. However, the thieves are featured in this video, which uses a soundtrack that will sound familiar to fans of the shoplifter porn genre.
Peter Spencer, a spokesman for Richmond County D.A. Daniel Donovan, says all five shoplifters in the ad have been convicted of theft at the SI Mall, and all have multiple petit larceny convictions. Spencer says, "One defendant has an incredible 138 arrests and 66 convictions on her record: 64 for misdemeanors, mostly theft-related, and she has been banned from the SI Mall for life." We're not really sure whether that's a punishment or leniency ha ha, but Spencer stresses the ads are not punitive; they're preventive.
"The faces of these convicted thieves are a reminder that shoplifters will be prosecuted, and in some cases, they will be put in jail—or maybe even embarrassed by having their face shown to mallgoers 11 million times over 4 weeks," Spencer declares. The ads will run through January 8th, and so far they seem to be planting seeds. A mall manager tells the Staten Island Advance he's seen customers point to the billboards and tell their children, "See, you don’t want to be that guy."
The absence of controversy over the ads stands in contrast with Nassau County's wall of shame of alleged drunk drivers, which was posted on the county's website and Newsday.com. The mug shots were accompanied by the names and addresses of the drivers, even though on one occasion officials mistakenly put a diabetic driver's info up on the virtual wall. Following a lawsuit, a judge ruled that only the names and photos could posted. After that, the shame was never the same.