A recent survey estimated that shoplifting or retail theft costs about $40.5 billion a year. New reports are showing that repeat offenders who are struggling with financial issues are stealing more common, everyday items such as groceries. Shoplifting is the single largest category of property crime in America with bank and car theft far behind.
Most experts agree that when the economy is down as it is now, shoplifting and other crimes go up. People are losing full-time jobs, getting only part-time jobs and having difficulty paying their mortgage or credit cards. They turn to shoplifting to get the items they want or need. This doesnâ€™t justify shoplifting, itâ€™s still a crime.
Shoplifting is considered a misdemeanor petty theft if the value of the stolen goods totals less than $300 to $500. First time offenders may be charged with a less serious crime such as disorderly conduct. But repeat offenders can be charged with grand theft or larceny â€“ both are felony crimes if the stolen goods exceed $500.
The National Learning and Resource Center and the Minnesota Crime Prevention Associationâ€™s Crime Prevention Tips are excellent sources for retailers to learn how to prevent shoplifting crimes. As long as the economy is poor, shoplifting crimes will continue and will cost all of us a lot of money in the end.