And some get creative.
One of the oldest scams in a market-based economy is buying something from a chain store then returning it to another chain store where they charge more for it. I've known a few people who wanted a few extra bucks who would buy a blouse or something from one Walmart, drive to Walmart ten minutes away, and return it without the receipt. With the right research and by playing carefully, they could walk out of the store with an extra $10 to $15. Oldest trick in the book. Big shock, these scams become more frequent in a down economy. Whoda guessed?
Another system ripe for petty larceny is bottle redemption. Apparently, this was goofed on in Seinfeld (never watched the show more than a few minutes, so I don't know). In the episode in question, two characters hatch a plan to take a truckload of cans and bottle from New York to Michigan to be redeemed, because Michigan pay 10 cents a container vs. 5 in New York.
This isn't speculation. "Redemption fraud" is a frequent crime, especially in the great Nor'east. The state of Maine started redeeming bottles in 1978, starting with the usual soda, beer, and carbonated drinks. Over time, it has expanded to include just about anything, including juice, water, sports drinks, and hard liquor (everything from Grey Goose to Night Train). They pay 5 cents per container and 15 cents for wine and other liquor bottles. Maine gets the money back from the liquor distributors, plus 3.5 to 4 cents per container as a handling fee. It is estimated that 90 millions cans and bottles from outside the state of Maine are brought in there to be redeemed, costing beverage distributors an estimated $8 to $10 mil a year.
Well, we know where about $10,000 of that went. Thomas and Megan Woodard, who run Green Bee Redemption in the border town of Kittery, ME, have been accused of redemption fraud to the tune of 100,000 containers and a value of $10K. The owner of a couple of redemption centers in South Berwick and Kittery (border towns) paid a $10,000 fine for fraud, but this is the first time actual charges have been filed.
Also caught up in this is Peter Prybot, a 62-year-old lobsterman and writer from Gloucester, Massachusetts. MA is one of ten states with redemption laws, but theirs only covers cabonated drinks, beer, and mineral water (?). He's accused of redeeming more than $1,000. He says he bought all those containers in Maine and denies the allegations.
Maine is also introducing legislation to enable distributors to sue individuals they feel are redeeming too many containers. I'd hate to be in that frat house.
So apparently the expression "lost their bottle" has a whole new meaning.