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.
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 bag-like 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 disturbed.
The greatest number of shoplifters are "amateurs." Usually, they have little money, few scruples and an intense desire to own luxuries.
Psychologists say the four most common urges and emotions underlying these crimes are:
- Profound feelings of guilt.
- A wish to be punished.
- A need to prove their worth and/or
- 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.
When You Discover a Shoplifter
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.