How Shoplifting Affects You & Your Family

One of the most common non-violent crimes facing America today-
and most of the world - is shoplifting. So prevalent is this
problem, that most stores and shops automatically increases
prices (as much as 10%) to cover these losses.

Shoplifters fall into several categories. First, there are
the "professionals". They make their living by stealing -
most often to their "customers" specifications. They have
to perfect their technique to operate . . .to remove labels
with scissors or razor blades, that could incriminate them
if caught . . .or by designing a "booster" box for stolen
articles. . . or the expert use of "bad bags" (shopping bags)
. . . or "booster" skirts or pants (ordinary appearing garments
with baglike compartments inside). . .plus dozens of other
clever "professional's tools".

Some take things they could easily pay for and perhaps do
not even want. These offenders may suffer from kleptomania,
a neurotic, irresistible impulse to steal. This is almost
never done for the purpose of acquiring the item taken.
While these people may not necessarily be considered
mentally ill, generally "kleptomaniacs" are emotionally

The greatest number of shoplifters are "amateurs". Usually,
they have little money, few scruples & an intense desire to
own luxuries. Psychologists say the four most common urges
and emotions underlying these crimes are: (1) Profound
feelings of guilt, (2) A wish to be punished, (3) A
need to prove their worth and/or (4) an impulse to
retaliate for real or fancied wrongs. These shoplifters
are not necessarily ill or disturbed, they simply steal
because it pays.

Whether the item taken is of little value (as a candy bar
or piece of bubble gum), or of greater worth (typewriter
or camera) it is still shoplifting and it is still a crime.
These crimes affect us all by being forced to pay higher prices.

No matter how young children are, they must be taught that to
take anything without paying for it is a wrongful act. If a
child does not realize this at an early age, it may set a
pattern that could follow him into adulthood, with
disturbing consequences.

The simplest way to prevent a child from stealing is to
watch him at all times while you are shopping and reprimand
him when the act takes place. If this fails, take him to the
store manager or other authoritative personnel and say something
like "My son took this. Will you please tell him what happens
to people who steal".

Naturally, it is a more serious problem when teenagers and
adults engage in shoplifting. A friend or family member may
be extremely secretive, but if they engage in shoplifting
regularly, there are usually giveaway clues as to their
activities: (1) Extra unexplained income,
(2) Possession of luxuries you know they cannot afford,
(3) Secretive habits during certain times of the day,
and/or (4) Lavish gifts on friends and acquaintances.

If it's a stranger in the illegal act, notify store
personnel. If it's a friend or family member, warn him
first. If this fails, convince him to see a doctor.
As a last resort, you may have to notify police, to save
him from ridicule, disgrace and extreme hardship later.