Why do people shoplift? Top 10 reasons

Impulse control, drug and alcohol use, stress, and financial problems can all cause people to shoplift. A review of the compulsive nature of shoplifting and why people shoplift here.

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Shoplifting is one of the most common but least detected and reported crimes.

If you are reading this, maybe you or your loved one has been recently convicted of shoplifting. Or maybe you want to know the signs of shoplifting addiction. Or you might wonder if repeat shoplifters need help or counseling. Here we will review why people shoplift and later we will talk more about shoplifting addiction and treatment.

Why do people shop lift?

1. Self service sales methods – Stores and shops display prepackaged goods openly rather than behind high counters, closed cupboards or open shelves beyond a customer’s reach. Self services makes shoplifting easy.

2. Drug addiction – The need for drug money can cause some people to shoplift. Shoplifting is thought to fuel drug trade, because it provides the income some addicts need to buy drugs.

3. To make a living – Some people shoplift to survive and either sell or barter what they steal.

4. For spending money and status – Research has consistently shown that juvenile males are more often involved in theft than other groups and who need spending money to buy clothes or items which bring social status among their peers.

5. To own the goods – Shoplifters also take enjoyable things to own and consume.

6. Psychological temptation – The psychological orientation towards the “unconscious” shopper that entice tempting acquisition of goods and impulse buying contributes to shoplifting.

7. Low risk – About 1 in 150 shoplifters actually gets caught. In combination with the low chance of getting caught, shoplifters can offer a believable excuse, such as forgetfulness and intention to pay.

8. Lack of tracking and security – The stock control in shops is so deficient and retailers simply do not track shoplifting. As long as theft and damage of goods, does not rise above 2-3% of goods sold, retailers pay little attention to shoplifting. Additionally, retailers are often unwilling to pay for extra security and prevention measures and instead rely on local police to enforce laws. And finally, stores can be designed that make theft prevention difficult.

9. Mental health disorder – Stealing without needing to is called kleptomania and is an impulse control disorder. Experts think that this mental health disorder accounts for up to 5% of shoplifting cases. More on signs of kleptomania here.

10. Low fines – If caught for shoplifting, typical sums charged are $250 for adult shoplifters and $120 for juveniles. These low fines may not provide enough incentive for shoplifters to stop stealing.

EXTRA REASON why people shoplift…

11. Depersonalization – People seem to have fewer inhibitions about stealing from shops than from private individuals, because a corporation is seen as an entity rather than a person. Some shoplifters believe shoplifting harms no one except an anonymous business that can take the losses as a tax write-off.

Is shoplifting an addiction?

Shoplifting can fuel drug addiction, but it can also be an addiction of its own, especially if a person impulsively steals without the need to do so. If you have questions about shoplifting, please leave them below. We will be happy to help you, no matter your situation.

References sources: Problem Oriented Guides for Police
Hot Products: Understanding, Anticipating and Reducing the Demand for Stolen Goods
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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