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Understanding Shoplifting and the Reasons Behind the Crime

Shoplifting is a crime that, at times, ends up unnoticed by law enhancement firms. Regardless of whether the criminal activity causes detrimental effects to the victims, there appears to be less recognition concerning the activity. The individuals who are the actors in this area tend to contemplate that the practice is virtuous for them. In addition, people tend to reason that it is not offensive to possess another person’s material goods without his or her consent.

First, robberies with violence or activities that involve violent activities are treated as threats to the well-being of humans. Shoplifting is defined as the unlawful stealing or picking of an item from a particular store without adhering to the preset process for acquiring the merchandise. It is deemed that for an individual to be subject to shoplifting, he or she must have the intent to do the action. Studies show that people caught up in cases of shoplifting have the knowledge that they are aiming to deprive the owner of the property of his or her merchandise. Many occasions are explained where shoplifting involves individuals concealing the property under the garments, purses, bags, pockets, and other openings that fit the stolen goods. Compared with data ranging from January to June 2016 and a similar period in 2017, the percentage decrease is accrued as 2.9 percent. The figure denotes a positive score, which shows that people are enlightened about the negative consequences associated with committing the crime.

Although a huge percentage of shoplifters are amateurs, there is a growing number of citizens who turn shoplifting into a primary source of income. It is arguable that large numbers of amateurs are highly skilled and tend to rob stores on a daily basis. However, according to research published by the FBI, the level of shoplifting cases has declined significantly (FBI, 2017). According to the data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), larceny theft is defined as the illegal handling, leading, taking, or riding of a commodity from one constructive possession to another. Such cases include swiping a person’s laptop, pickpocketing, shoplifting goods from stores, and stealing of bicycles. The report from the FBI claims that larceny covers all theft that does not involve force, fraud, or violence. The concept enables us to deduce shoplifting as one of the criminal activities that is against the well-being of human beings.

Age Group And Reasons Behind Shoplifting

Shoplifting is associated with the lack of proper surveillance. The result makes it hard for security personnel to detect whether an individual is a potential shoplifter or a normal customer. In contrast to other forms of force-characterized theft, shoplifting does not involve force. Children appear to have great chances of committing crimes compared to age groups. One of the reasons behind this is the notion that children are rarely inspected. Security personnel stationed at storefronts tend to assume children are casual buyers. In addition, workers in the stores perceive children as innocent and, once, without their consent, pick things other than ordered to do. Children are more vulnerable to conducting shoplifting as a result of incitement from adults. However, it is important to note that shoplifting between men and women has similar results.

There exist a number of reasons why individuals are engaged in shoplifting. The main causes range from the need to quench drug addiction to poverty. The need for money to cater to drugs remains one of the reasons that people are engaged in shoplifting. People tend to think that it is a valuable source of quick income and that it would satisfy the immediate need for drugs. It is thought that the type of crime has a positive effect on facilitating the drug trade. The items picked from the store are used in exchange for drugs, which is the ultimate need for some people. Consequently, the poverty level forces people to look for cheaper means of survival. Shoplifting proves to be an easier source of income for material property. People are forced to shoplift to either barter what they successfully steal from a store or spend directly to cater to their personal needs. Furthermore, premises that offer self-service act as facilitators of shoplifting. People develop the desire to own the displayed property regardless of the lack of monetary possession for exchange. Shops ought to display the prepackaged goods behind the counters since this would drive away the urge for people to steal. When a commodity is easily accessible by the customer, the likelihood of the client hiding the product under the garments is higher. In addition, mental disorders are also a reason behind the increased cases of shoplifting. The act of stealing without the person’s full consent is known as kleptomania. Research shows that five percent of shoplifting incidences are associated with mental health disorders. Other reasons associated with shoplifting are the low fines (compared to other types of theft). The negligible fines make people find shoplifting more flexible in terms of punishment rather than forced involvement in theft. Also, there exist chances for the victims to plead, feign forgetfulness, and use other related excuses, such as willingness to purchase the product. Unemployment accounts for a larger portion of cases related to larceny. Higher unemployment rates are associated with a significant rise in theft cases. Nevertheless, the length of period that people remain unemployed has proved to have an equal and negative influence on the rate of theft. Individuals are characterized as enduring short periods of economic hardship, but when the period is extended, the chances of turning into theft as an alternative are high.

Ways of fighting shoplifting cases

There are possible means that can be applied by retailers to fight incidences that might lead to losses in the firms. The employment of a prevention officer is a considerable idea that firms can use. The officer acts as a security force aimed at protecting the property of the employer (Manley, 2003). The officers can also have privileges such as possession of weapons, arrest of suspects, and use of physical force in incidences that demand force. However, during the search period, the officers are inclined to follow the law as the activity might threaten their employment as well as the business. The camera is important since it helps track the entrance, check receipts, and monitor the exit of a customer.

Retailers might opt to use surveillance security cameras. The integration of the technology in the retail outlets would enhance passive monitoring of the activities going on on the premises in real-time. With the awareness of the presence of cameras recording the movements of the customers, there might be minimal incidences of theft. For instance, retailers demonstrate having utilized $2.83 billion to ensure the safety of the stores is maintained (Levy, 2013). The income translates to the money spent combatting theft incidents rather than using the income to develop other infrastructure.

Moreover, firms should ensure that products that are easily movable are not positioned at storefronts where customers can easily reach them. This translates to items that demand a lot of money, and that might need to be displayed so that everyone can easily see them. Firms can also employ personal policies to monitor the activities of customers during the purchase period. The concept includes the employment of workers who would act as agents to monitor sensitive areas such as fitting rooms. The employees then present the feedback to the management. Proper training is necessary to enable workers to understand their responsibilities. With the understanding of what a worker is required to do, he or she acts as a reliable source of information concerning the performance of customers.

There is a need for people to be made aware of the dangers associated with shoplifting. The shoplifters also should be treated with consideration of their state of mental wellness. Individuals pretending to be mentally challenged should be treated in accordance with the set rules. In addition, parents found manipulating or taking advantage of children to conduct illegal practices must be subjected to the laws and regulations. It should be noted that committing shoplifting does not necessitate moving the merchandise outside a premises. For instance, a person is considered to have committed larceny due to alteration of the price tags, packaging to avoid payments, storing the products in different containers, and manipulating the merchandise.


Blog, A. (2011, July 1). Why do people shoplift? Top 10 reasons. Retrieved March 04, 2018, from

Bureau of Justice Statistics. (2005a). Drugs and Crime Facts. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice.

Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2017). Uniform Crime Reports 2017.Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice.

Levy, Michael, Barton Weitz, Dhruv Grewal. Retailing Management, 9th Edition. McGraw-Hill Learning Solutions, 11/2013. VitalBook file.

Manley, Anthony D. Retail Loss Prevention Officer, The: The Fundamental Elements of Retail Security and Safety. Pearson Learning Solutions, 9/2003. VitalBook file.



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