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Shoplifting is on the rise. Crime in the Retail Industry has grown over the past few years beyond belief. While some blame it on the economy, I tend to blame it on society in general. I found an article online here that says "Holiday Needs add up to more thefts," but that doesn't make that much sense to me. While it would be nice to afford nice things during the holidays for our loved ones, the material "need" doesn't truly exist. I don't "need" anything for Christmas. Sure, there are a lot of things it would be nice to have, like sheets that fit my bed and a pot to cook with, those things are not necessity. I've lived this long without those things, I can last a bit longer. The last thing in the world I would ever want would be for someone to go to jail because they couldn't afford to buy me a set of sheets that I don't really "need" even if someone had the inclination of getting them for me.

Children are found shoplifting in even the high-end neighborhoods. These are the kids who's parents buy them a brand new BMW for graduation and a new pony (or in the case of the area where I work, a new Thoroughbred) for their birthdays. Yet, when a call goes out of a shoplifter, it's one of these kids that have everything. It's not about the lack of funds for these kids, but rather the thrill of doing something they aren't supposed to.

Shoplifting has always been an issue, since the beginning of shops, but back in the street markets of the 1400's it was because a mother couldn't afford food for her children. In the 1920's and during the Great Depression, people couldn't afford bread and the occasional child would steal bread for their families. The movie "Cinderella Man" showed this in a proud and honest way. The father actually scolded his son and walked him back to the store to return the stolen food, even though they were starving.

To see the trends of Shoplifting is astonishing. I did a random Google Search on the subject and was amazed to see the trend increasing by leaps and bounds starting in the 1950's here in the USA. Even during the Great Depression, the reports were minimal even with as much starvation as was prevalent at the time.

Values and morals, as well as pride, punishment and honor are all lacking these days. People do it just to see if they can get away with it. There was a time when people would be too proud to accept or purchase stolen goods, while now we have something called the "black market" that thrives in stolen items. It's grown so much that it now has its own name.

In the beginning this was going to be a story that surrounded my own personal experience at watching, catching and even participating in shoplifting. Now it's turned into more of an informative piece on the trends of Shoplifting and my own astonishment to the trends that have developed over time.

I went through a Shoplifting training course back when I handled Loss Prevention for Circuit City. It was explained to me that about 80% of all thefts in the retail industry are from employees. I saw plenty of that there during my time. Of the remaining 20%, more than half are people who can afford the items they steal, but do it basically for the thrill of the crime, the quickening of the heart and the slight adrenaline rush they get upon succeeding in the crime. The remaining percentage is mostly professional shoplifting rings of people who sell these items to the 'black market' online or out of the trunks of their cars. Very few thefts are actually done by people who can't afford something and desperately need it.

In total, approximately 1% of all theft here in the United States is by someone trying to feed a needy child or provide warmth through clothing they can't afford. There are programs in place to take care of these people, such as shelters and food stamps for feeding children and adults, Goodwill for clothing those who can't afford coats in the winter.

It's my personal belief (and not the direct opinion of my company or anyone I'm associated with) that ALL STORES should prosecute Shoplifters to the full extent of the law, and if the explanation of the trends above isn't enough to convince you, try doing your own research. Learn more about Loss Prevention. Talk to your local Law Enforcement agencies or Security professionals about Shoplifting. If people aren't sure what to do, find out.

Lets cut down on Shoplifting this Holiday season. It's senseless, selfish and stupid.


  1. Does that include being prosecuted for taking cash from your employer's register? You know whether it's a sandwich shop or any business one works for. Sometimes they just fire the person I suppose.

    1. Actually, taking anything of more than a $20 value from an employer, cash or goods, is considered embezzlement and is punishable by extended stays in an iron side hotel and hefty legal fees. Sometimes they do just fire the person, especially small businesses because they don't know the law or have a team of lawyers on retainer. But big businesses like Circuit City will seize the opportunity to fully prosecute to the extent allowed by law.


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