Shoplifting is a nationwide problem, costing retailers approximately $13 BILLION annually. In other words, that is over $2.7 million a day. This issue affects us all by causing higher prices for the products we purchase.
Why would a person want to take something and not pay for it? Well, some people look at this as giving themselves a reward, which gives them a temporary lift or high. They have this belief that it will help them cope with other underlying problems. There was a study done by a major credit card company, and they found that shopping was second only to dining out as a way for people to reward themselves. Therefore, if a person shoplifts, the reward could seem even greater to them.
In my experience as a law enforcement officer, I have apprehended people that have stolen or tried to steal food items. It is a sad situation when the person tries to explain that they have no money to eat or even feed their children. I have seen storeowners have a system that allows people to work for what they have taken. Some have even been able to work out a program with the owners to receive food that could not be put out for sale because of dates on the packaging. Though this opportunity curbed shoplifting at this particular store, I realize this practice is not the norm.
Then again, you have the teens that pocket makeup because of the price, or on a dare from friends. Not too many of us as children didn’t had the urge to pocket that candy bar. It was pretty scary when you’ were caught and your parents were told. Normally, that would stop a future thief.
You also have those people who believe they don’t get paid enough money for the job they do. They think that the company or store makes a ton of money, so if they steal items it doesn’t hurt anyone. Often, they do not realize that the theft they committed just forced the company to raise prices in order to make up for the loss.
I was working in a retail environment once and was told that a young man had placed an item under his jacket. I watched this man, and when he left the last point of purchase, I confronted him. He thought it was no big deal; it was only one item. I explained to him that if everyone across the country decided to take only one item without paying for it, it would greatly affect the price of goods sold. The young man was in his teens, and I believe he got my drift.
With people becoming unemployed and money being tight, you see an increase in theft, sometimes seemingly out of necessity. That is the sad part. You see people stealing formula to feed their kids, or children trying to deal with the peer pressure that makes them feel they must have the great sneakers or those special brand-name jeans. I also realize that for people who are depressed, shoplifting can make them feel better in the short-term.
Theft and shoplifting will never be completely stopped. All we can do is try to teach our children that shoplifting is a punishable crime and not to do it for any reason.
Here are some facts regarding shoplifting:
• 1 in 11 people shoplift (27 million in our nation)
• The is no profile for a shoplifter; both men and women shoplift equally
• Approximately 25% of shoplifters are kids, the other 75% are adults
• Habitual shoplifters steal approximately 2 times per week
• Many shoplifters buy items and steal items in the same visit
• 50% of the time, shoplifters (if caught) are turned over to police
This problem affects all of us. If you do see someone shoplifting, mention it to the store manager discreetly and do not try to handle it yourself. Some stores have security officers that are trained to handle the situation without escalation, and you should always let the professionals do their job.
As always, stay safe and aware.
By: Jim Doyle, owner of Madison Security Group
203 Us Highway 31 S, Athens, AL 35611