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Shoplifting and Law Enforcement

All communities are affected by crime to various degrees. Violent crimes can instill feelings of fear and apprehension while non-violent crimes can inspire feelings of frustration and dismay. Shoplifting, a non-violent crime, has a wide-reaching effect on not only the emotions and safety of citizens, but also, it can affect their very ability to provide food, clothing and other items for themselves and family members. Law enforcement agencies have put a great deal of research and emphasis into the fight against shoplifting, as a way to keep the crime rate down and helping to reassure the economic security of private citizens and business owners. Shoplifting, as a crime, can be destructive to retail establishments, their employees and the public that ends up paying more for items that have raised prices in order to compensate for the loss of the retailer.

Shoplifters range from children and teenagers to adults and even senior citizens. According to the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention, there are approximately 27 million shoplifters in the United States, or 1 person in 11. 25 percent of shoplifters are children, while adults make up the remaining 75 percent. Shoplifting averages about 550,000 incidents per day, according to The National Association for Shoplifting Prevention, resulting in more than $13 billion retail losses each year.


While many may see shoplifting as a victimless crime, it does have an impact. Most people who shoplift are found to be depressed or have some other psychological disorder. So-called “professional” shoplifters may actually be addicted to the tension and “high” that is experienced while shoplifting. In the case of shoplifting, the benefit, which is rarely the actual item stolen, outweighs the risk. It is the “rush” that is experienced that makes shoplifting so hard for police officers and the court system to combat shoplifting. Much like a drug or alcohol, the punishments for shoplifting are minor, and the need to feel that anticipation may override a shoplifter’s common sense, even if they have been arrested and/or jailed by a law enforcement officer or even convicted in court.

Police officers and the court system are concerned with all sorts of different crimes, and the focus is mainly on the crimes that most severely impact their communities. While shoplifting may seem a minor offense in comparison to other crimes, it is still important to realize the impact that shoplifting has on the law enforcement agencies, the community and even on the shoplifter.

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