Gen Z are sharing stealing tips to punish chain stores and "problematic" businesses on TikTok.
An increasing number of teens regularly informs people about stealing habit via TikTok accounts in what is known as “Borrowing TikTok”.
The “borrowing” community is made up of anonymous accounts, run by teens with voice changer effects, who bond over love of five-finger discounts, share hauls and how-to videos.
“I mostly get questions about what’s easiest to borrow, where’s easiest to borrow from, how to avoid cameras and security, taking off security tags,” explains one of them.
This isn’t the first online community of shoplifters. In Tumblr, a smaller community existed, also detailing their hauls and tips. But according to those involved, Borrowing TikTok is about more than just stealing stuff. It’s pointedly rooted in politics.
The borrowing community is mainly US-based. They exclusively steal from large chain stores, they encourage it with the catchphrase: “If it’s a chain, it’s free reign.”
“We have so many companies that don’t care about their customers, only making money. If we can punish the corporation, we feel we have done our best.”
They evaluate a company’s politics when deciding to steal from them. If they’re unsure, they’ll find it on the #borrowingtips
tag, with more than 95 million views. “We wanna really make them hurt more than companies that aren’t as problematic,” says one member.
This is where cracks show in their ideology: an outwardly regressive senior member of staff doesn’t mean the company in question mistreats their staff. Is an entire company homophobic, sexist or racist? It can be difficult to call, but these teens are confident in calling it.
Although they say the anti-capitalism aspect is just an added benefit, it’s the whole point for some. With some claiming a Robin Hood attitude, one telling that she “borrowed” pet supplies from a chain pet store and donated them to a local shelter.
An ex-shoplifter who runs a treatment centre for shoplifting addiction, says he understands the premise of stealing to get back at the system, but stores bump up prices of all items to account for shoplifting losses, and end up making prices higher for everyone.
The mindset growing on TikTok reflects real generational change with 2/5 young people saying stealing from businesses is viewed as acceptable. Sociologist Dan Mercea, warns there is a risk you can get addicted to shoplifting.Are you an anti-capitalist, borrowing, system thrower, ONTD?