Welcome to the "THEFT TALK" web page:
"THEFT TALK"™, was founded in 1983 and is a nonprofit corporation which is based in Portland, Oregon. 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, US News and World Reports, Teen Vogue, Teen Magazine and Counseling Today. HBO and MSNBC have  featured our services.
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"™ has been a nonprofit corporation and actively involved in theft diversion and prevention counseling throughout Oregon. "THEFT TALK"™ began its online theft class in November 2002.
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.
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"™ Counseling Service Incorporated web page. Please take the time to peruse all our pages, we think they will prove to be of interest to you.
If you would like to know about our Staff and Board Memebers ...







"THEFT TALK" -- Since 1983

Theft Offender / Shoplifting Counseling In Person and Online. Stealing is a crime

 An Outcome Alternatives™ program

West Linn, OR 97068


(503) 771-2542



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