The phenomenon is very popular with young females on Tumblr
Every now and then, I’ll stumble across something online that geniuinely puzzles me. The obsession with Pokemon Go, for example, utterly baffled me; I just didn’t get it. The most recent example, however, is an online phenomenon called Liftblr. This is a tag used on Tumblr by people, usually females, to show off fashion and beauty items they have stolen.
This community posts their “hauls” onto Tumblr using pseudonymous accounts. Aside from bragging about the items they swipe, they also offer advice and encouragment to other members of the community.
"Princess Kelpto" was one of the first profiles I stumbled across. She claims to have "lifted" products totalling more than $15,000 in value, so far. One of her most recent posts gave her followers tips on how to steal from a clothing store.
The "My Guides" section of Princess Klepto's Tumblr is filled with comprehensive explainers on how to get away with day-light robbery. She details individual stores, particular products and whether or not to go it alone. The bio on her page states that she is 15 years of age. Another page within her profile shows off her various "hauls".
Professor Elizabeth Yardley, Associate Professor of Criminology and Director of the Centre for Applied Criminology at Birmingham City University, spoke to The Guardian about this phenomenon.
"Our lives are changing because of social media. It's also changing how people commit a crime. This is a type of performance crime in that it is enacted for an audience. What's interesting, however, is their choosing to remain anonymous."
Some of the bloggers taking part in the thefts claim to be activists of sorts. They cite their privilege as white, affluent girls as part of the politics of their practice as store-employees tend to racially profile black teenagers, leaving the white kids to steal undisturbed. Other members of the Liftblr community say they are expected to live up to a particular standard as modern day teenagers. One has been quoted as saying "if i have to put up with this kind of stuff, i’m certainly not going to pay for it."
"People like to label it as a form of activism, but what they're doing isn't probably having that much of an impact," says Yardley. "There's a drive to push the boundaries. They're doing it in a way they think is safe. They don't think they'll get caught or that it will ever impact their future."
The criminologist warned, however, that while they operate under pseudonyms they are not completely anonymous.