Shoplifting is the illegal act of taking goods from a store and leaving without paying for the items. By legal definition, shoplifting is considered a form of theft and is subject to prosecution.
The incidents of shoplifting are increasing because anyone can do the act. People of any age, gender, race, and social class can commit shoplifting.
Shrink is the loss of inventory related to theft, shoplifting, error, or fraud. It costs retailers about 1.33% of annual sales on average. A National Retail Federation survey shows that in 2017, shrink impacted the US retail economy with a loss of $46.8 billion. And, 36.5% of these losses are from shoplifting.
What methods do shoplifters use?
Shoplifting may involve a single person or an accomplice who hides an item and steals from an establishment unknown by the employees.
Shoplifter usually conceals the object in their pockets, bags, or under clothes. Shoplifting can also replace the tag from another item that is lower than its original price. Returning of the stolen item and trying to refund the money can also be considered as shoplifting.
Shoplifters tend to take advantage of the shop during peak hours when the employees are busy, or when there are few employees in the shop. They also tend to steal again from the store where they previously shoplifted.
What items do they steal?
Commonly shoplifted items are small and easy to hide. The most common is the cigarette. Small grocery items and gadgets like earphones and make-up, may also get stolen.
There are two types of shoplifters, which are amateurs and career criminals.
The amateur shoplifters do not regularly steal and do not use it as a source of income. Most of them take things for personal use – like clothes or cosmetics. Some amateurs take items that they don’t need and caused only by the desire to steal something.
On the other hand, career criminals use shoplifting as a source of income. These people are usually trained and used different tactics to shoplift. They tend to steal expensive items.
What are the reasons why people do shoplifting?
Mostly shoplifters who are getting caught and investigated, say that they had no intention of shoplifting before entering the shop. Some of the explanations are unrealistic and absurd.
1. A person may steal an item due to financial difficulties. Most shoplifters own and use it. Some of them sell the item to earn money.
2. Not everyone tends to shoplift when shoplifters don’t have money. Peer pressure can cause younger people to shoplift. When they have seen other people are doing it, and are also urging them to do the same.
3. Some people may also shoplift to funds addiction. Addiction due to substance, alcohol, and gambling may cause the person to shoplift for the money.
4. A person may steal an item that they already own, afford to buy, and don’t need it. Signs that are related to Kleptomania and classified as an impulse control disorder. Kleptomania is the strong urge of stealing, which you cannot control and done for the purpose other than personal need. Kleptomaniac steals for the thrill of it and doesn’t consider the value of the item. These urges usually trigger spontaneously and not planned. The person may take an item anywhere they want, from public places to family or friend’s homes.
What preventions can we use to avoid shoplifting in the stores?
1. Retailers can train employees to be more vigilant and identify shoplifters.
2. Store owners can install security cameras to monitor the customers.
3. Post signages about the consequences of stealing.
4. Involve police for any case of theft.
The person suffering from pathological stealing can seek help from professionals for rehabilitation and treatments. Family and friend’s support can also help the person to recover.