Police Line
Crime scene police line | Representational Image Photo: GETTY IMAGES / SCOTT OLSON

An on-duty police officer in Mississippi, USA, was arrested for allegedly shoplifting sneakers. The police officer, identified as 33-year-old Robin Conner, was arrested last week on Wednesday for stealing a $140 (£110) pair of shoes.

Conner, who has been with the Columbus Police Force for the last two years, was wearing her uniform when she carried out the alleged crime.

The incident came to light after police officers were called to Dick's Sporting Goods in Columbus about a shoplifting incident. Conner was immediately taken to jail by her colleagues in her own squad car and booked into the Lowndes County Adult Detention Center.

An investigation was launched into the incident, and Conner was immediately placed on administrative leave. She has been charged with misdemeanour shoplifting for stealing goods worth less than $1,000 (around £789).

"We have a job to do and we're held to a higher standard. And the community is just starting to trust us, and to take this gut punch really hurts," said Police Chief Joseph Daughtry. According to a New York Post report, Conner has now been fired from her job.

In a similar incident reported last month, a New Zealand MP was forced to resign from parliament after several reports emerged accusing her of shoplifting things on at least three occasions.

The allegations came to light after CCTV footage of the MP stealing things from high-end stores in Auckland and Wellington became public. The MP later issued a statement addressing the issue, saying mental health issues and work-related stress caused her to behave in such a manner.

"People should, rightly, expect the highest standards of behaviour from their elected representatives. I fell short. I'm sorry. It's not a behaviour I can explain because it's not rational in any way, and after medical evaluation, I understand I'm not well," her statement said.

She further added that "the best thing for my mental health is to resign as a member of parliament, to focus on my recovery, and to find other ways to work for positive change in the world".

"With that in mind, I don't want to hide behind my mental health problems, and I take full responsibility for my actions which I deeply regret," she said.

The first accusations came to light on January 10 after a local news radio station, Newstalk ZB, published a report accusing the 43-year-old of shoplifting.

She was accused of shoplifting at Scotties Boutique in Ponsonby, Auckland, and Cre8iveworkz in Wellington. The incident at Cre8iveworx reportedly took place in October last year. The police have said that the investigation into the matter is still underway. However, they did not confirm that the incident involved Ghahraman.

The MP, who hails from Iran, made history by becoming the first refugee to be elected to parliament in New Zealand in 2017. She had sought asylum in New Zealand after the Iran-Iraq war. She had worked as a criminal defence and human rights lawyer before venturing into politics.

Can shoplifting be attributed to mental health issues?

Terrence Daryl Shulman, the author of Something for Nothing: Shoplifting Addiction and Recovery, believes that mental health issues could be one of the reasons why people commit such acts.

"Most people who resort to stealing are actually 'crying for help.' There's something amiss, wrong, unresolved, absent," he writes in his book.

He further says that people shoplift "to try to make life fair", grief — "to fill the void due to a loss", and depression — "to distract from sadness". The National Association for Shoplifting Prevention (NASP), a US-NGO, also says that it is a coping mechanism, somewhat similar to drinking.

According to experts at the Cleveland Clinic, kleptomania is a mental health condition where people suffer from an impulse control disorder. However, it is something that can be treated.