The national studies show that about one in every 10 people in the U.S. shoplifts every year. When people think of shoplifting, they usually think of a criminal who steals something just to sell it again to fund a drug habit or something similar. Interestingly, these criminals only account for 3% of shoplifters and about 75% of shoplifters say that they had no plans for stealing before they entered the store. So, the question is, "What are the reasons behind shoplifting?" Keep reading to find the answer.
Why Do People Shoplift?
Though some people shoplift because of lack of money, it is a psychological issue for many shoplifters. It means they do not shoplift because they are in no position to buy that item. Most people who do it usually have their own personal conflicts and psychological needs. Here are some of the reasons why different people engage in shoplifting.
1. Financial Difficulty
The most obvious explanation is that people shoplift because of their financial difficulties. When they want something and do not have the money, they shoplift. Some people steal foods and clothing to meet the basic needs while others shoplift on holiday seasons for gifts. Of course, there are also people who shoplift to buy drugs or to engage in other illegal businesses, just as mentioned previously.
2. Low Risk
Many people engage in shoplifting because it is actually a low-risk activity, especially considering the fact that only 1 in 150 shoplifters gets caught. Many shops don't have necessary safety measures and even don't track shoplifting. Therefore, some people decide to run a risk. If got caught, they usually make excuses and say they had no intention to steal and wanted to pay for the item.
3. Peer Pressure
Peer pressure is another reason for "why do people shoplift?" It is common that young teenagers are forced to steal to be accepted by a certain group. They have to steal something to prove their bravery and loyalty. But sometimes young kids steal trendy clothes and toys so as to keep up with their peers. Statistics show that about 33% of shoplifters are juveniles, and about 55% of adult shoplifters say that they started as teens.
4. Emotional Problems
People struggling with depression sometimes start shoplifting to have a soothing experience. Unfortunately, the feeling is only temporary and makes people to try it repeatedly. Some shoplifters say that they do it to get the "high" they usually feel after the act. The adrenaline rush associated with the whole act makes them do it again and again.
This psychological disorder makes it impossible for the person to resist the temptation to steal. They do not steal because they want the item or want to sell it again, but they do it because they become anxious and depressed until they take the item. Medical care is usually necessary here in order to control the compulsion.
Why do people shoplift? There can be many reasons making people to try this act. However, there are certain types of people who are more likely to engage in this activity. These shoplifters can be divided into six different categories. For instance:
- Some people are addictive compulsive shoplifters and usually target inexpensive items. They often give these items to friends and family. These people may also have other issues, including compulsive overeating, gambling problems, and mental health disorders.
- Some shoplifters are just thrill seekers and find it exciting to break the law. Most teen shoplifters fall into this category. Peer pressure plays a big role in pushing teenagers to try this act.
- Impoverished shoplifters often steal baby formula, diapers, or other essential items. They do it because they cannot afford to buy these items for their families.
- Most drug addicts find shoplifting an easy way to fund their addiction.
- Some people are professional shoplifters and usually steal electronics or other high-value items. They do it for a living.
- One category includes forgetful shoplifters who do it by mistake. Most elderly people fall into this category. People on some medications may also find them in such embarrassing situations.
How to Deal with Shoplifting
Knowing the answer to "Why do people shoplift?" is important but it is equally important to understand how you can deal with shoplifting and keep it out of your store. Here are some effective measures:
- Be attentive and be willing to greet your customers the moment they enter the store.
- Be wary of customers who seem nervous, avoid eye contact, or constantly look at store employees. Customers who wander the store and exhibit other suspicious behavior may be looking for an opportunity to shoplift. Talk to those shoppers and politely ask if you can do something for them.
- Ask your employees to walk around and down various aisles. Encourage them to not limit their eyes to the center of the store and tell them walk along the walls as well.
- Keep your store as organized as possible with shelves, racks, and dressing rooms. A disorganized store provides potential shoplifters with opportunities to make a move.
- Keep displays and shelves low and never overlook the importance of installing adequate lighting. This helps maintain visibility and discourage shoplifters to go any further with their plans.
- Have a conversation with other shop owners and ask them what steps they have taken to prevent shoplifting. Give your advice as well and tell them what suspicious behaviors they should watch out for.
- Be sure to hire enough employees to give customers personal attention. Ensure that there are enough employees during lunch breaks.
- Draft and post a shoplifting policy. Make your employees and customers aware of it. Provide ongoing training to your employees to help them understand how to prevent shoplifting.
- Invest some money on anti-theft devices – you can have security cameras along with convex mirrors in the corner and security towers at entrances.
- Ask your customers to see a salesperson before they use the fitting rooms.