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Shoplifting in the United States Today

Posted on June 14, 2013 at 1:38 PM
The first documented report of shoplifting was in London, sometime in the 16th century. The people responsible for these acts at the time, were called "Lifters" Today, this problem has increased and is causing retailers throughout the United States, $13 billion in losses. According to the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention (NASP), that is equivalent to $35 million a DAY in losses or what retailers call "shrink". 

There are numerous tools that can be used to deter shoplifters such as good customer service, noticeable employees in uniform and name tags as well as a neat and orderly location. In addition, a security guard at the entrance/exit area of the location, CCTV, and an EAS system could assist as well. However, even with all of these tools, shoplifting continues to plague retailers throughout the country. Below are some statistics that were provided by the NASP and I am sure you will agree, are quite alarming. 

  • More than $13 billion worth of goods are stolen from retailers each year. That's more than $35 million per day. 

  • There are approximately 27 million shoplifters (or 1 in 11 people) in our nation today. More than 10 million people have been caught shoplifting in the last five years. 

  • Shoplifting affects more than the offender. It overburdens the police and the courts, adds to a store's security expenses, costs consumers more for goods, costs communities lost dollars in sales taxes and hurts children and families. 

  • Shoplifters steal from all types of stores including department stores, specialty shops, supermarkets, drug stores, discounters, music stores, convenience stores and thrift shops. 

  • There is no profile of a typical shoplifter. Men and women shoplift about equally as often. 

  • Approximately 25 percent of shoplifters are kids, 75 percent are adults. 55 percent of adult shoplifters say they started shoplifting in their teens. 

  • Many shoplifters buy and steal merchandise in the same visit. Shoplifters commonly steal from $2 to $200 per incident depending upon the type of store and item(s) chosen. 

  • Shoplifting is often not a premeditated crime. 73 percent of adult and 72 percent of juvenile shoplifters don't plan to steal in advance. 

  • 89 percent of kids say they know other kids who shoplift. 66 percent say they hang out with those kids. 

  • Shoplifters say they are caught an average of only once in every 48 times they steal. They are turned over to the police 50 percent of the time. 

  • Approximately 3 percent of shoplifters are "professionals" who steal solely for resale or profit as a business. These include drug addicts who steal to feed their habit, hardened professionals who steal as a life-style and international shoplifting gangs who steal for profit as a business. "Professional" shoplifters are responsible for 10 percent of the total dollar losses. 

  • The vast majority of shoplifters are "non-professionals" who steal, not out of criminal intent, financial need or greed but as a response to social and personal pressures in their life. 

  • The excitement generated from "getting away with it" produces a chemical reaction resulting in what shoplifters describe as an incredible "rush" or "high" feeling. Many shoplifters will tell you that this high is their "true reward," rather than the merchandise itself. 

  • Drug addicts, who have become addicted to shoplifting, describe shoplifting as equally addicting as drugs. 

  • 57 percent of adults and 33 percent of juveniles say it is hard for them to stop shoplifting even after getting caught. 

  • Most non-professional shoplifters don't commit other types of crimes. They'll never steal an ashtray from your house and will return to you a $20 bill you may have dropped. Their criminal activity is restricted to shoplifting and therefore, any rehabilitation program should be "offense-specific" for this crime. 

  • Habitual shoplifters steal an average of 1.6 times per week.

There is a tool that can not only deter shoplifting within your business but also assist you with recovering the merchandise if there is a theft and even possibly allow you to recover restitution from the perpetrator (Civil Demand). Store detectives can blend within your shopping environment and are trained to observe the five elements of proof that are needed in order to successfully apprehend a shoplifter. Notice, I did not state "suspected' shoplifter because a well trained store detective will not make a stop unless all elements of proof are present. The elements, which are listed below; guarantee that a productive stop will be made.

The store detective must: 
1. Observe the subject enter the store and/or the department
2. Observe the subject select merchandise that has been verified as store property
3. Observe the subject conceal the said merchandise
4. Maintain constant and uninterrupted surveillance on the subject
5. Apprehend the subject after he or she passes ALL points of payment

Some retailers have their own Loss Prevention or Asset Protection officers, yet other retailers may not have the budget for such a department. Our store detectives that are apart of our Shoplifting Response Team are fully trained on the aforementioned elements and have years of experience detecting, apprehending and processing shoplifters. They are the perfect solution for the retailer that has a shoplifting issue but can not justify creating a department and supplying store detectives at every location. To learn more about our investigative techniques, please click here

“Information and statistics provided by the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention(NASP) a nonprofit organization providing research-based shoplifting prevention initiatives including education, prevention, justice and rehabilitation programs. Contact NASP: Click here to email us

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