Shoplifting may seem a victimless crime to the one performing it, but the ramifications of it are more far reaching than the perpetrator realizes. The reasons for shoplifting can vary from compulsive disorder to following through on a dare. Regardless of the reason, the results are always the same and always on the negative side of the equation.
A person who steals an item is committing a crime. The act, under normal circumstances, should produce a loss of self-esteem and a lowering of the individual's self worth in her own eyes. When the eyes of friends and family members view the act, embarrassment and distrust enter the scene. Society frowns on those who break the law, especially those who flaunt their brazen attitude and almost dare the system to try to catch them.
The loss to the retailer comes in many forms, the first of which is the lost revenue for the stolen item. As a result, the loss must be passed onto consumers by increasing the price of goods in general to compensate. Costly anti-theft programs must be prepared and publicized to try to deter the act from happening. Security measures must be put into place as deterrents and include surveillance cameras, security guards and even electronic article surveillance tags and their associated alarmed detectors.
Shoppers pay higher prices because the losses are passed along to paying customers by the retailer. The stolen items are no longer on the shelf for the consumer to purchase, so their selection has been impacted. High-ticket items are placed behind counters under lock and key, which complicates the shopping experience just enough for some consumers to not even bother seeking them out. Honest shoppers now fall into the same mistrust category as shoplifters because they cannot be distinguished from one another easily by the retailer.
To combat shoplifting, the retailer has increased prices, which may cause consumers to shop elsewhere to purchase comparable items at a cheaper rate. Time spent during that travel, plus the gas and wear and tear on the vehicle or simply an increased volume on the public transportation system, are all real effects that can be seen. Loss of shoppers can force some stores to close, which deprives the community of a retail source as well as a part of its social and economic fabric. Areas with a high percentage of shoplifting can also force stores to leave the area and resettle in a safer environment. Once again, the community suffers from the selfish act of a few.
Finally, shoplifting causes community time to be spent trying to resolve issues surrounding it, rather than the planning of civic projects that will make a positive contribution to the community. city council meetings, police and community relation meetings and civic organizational meetings need to spend their time in a more productive way instead of being forced to combat a blight that costs our nation more than $30 billion annually. Parents should educate their children that shoplifting is stealing, and that stealing is a crime against one's own family and the community.
According to the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention, there are approximately 27 million shoplifters in the United States alone, which equates to 1 person in 11. More than 10 million have been caught within the past 5 years. Kids make up 25 percent of the shoplifters; adults, 75 percent. It seems to be a lifelong practice as well because 55 percent of adults claim they began to shoplift as teenagers. When asked, 73 percent of adults and 72 percent of juveniles do not plan to steal, they just act impulsively. An astonishing 89 percent of kids say they know of other kids who shoplift and 66 percent say they associate with them. Only 3 percent of shoplifters are professionals, but they make up 10 percent of the total dollar losses. Even after being caught in the act, 57 percent of adults and 33 percent of juveniles say it is difficult to stop even after being caught. Habitual thieves shoplift on an average of 1.6 times a week.
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