U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Shoplifting - A Review

NCJ Number
Criminology and Penology Abstracts Issue: 3 Dated: (May/June 1981) Pages: 1-9
H Angenent
Date Published
9 pages
Literature from several countries on the extent of shoplifting, the characteristics of shoplifters, and potential countermeasures is reviewed.
Although shoplifting has existed as long as shops have existed, the crime began to attract attention with the emergence of the department store. The total loss from shoplifting ranges from 1-5 percent of a store's annual stock turnover. Employee theft is a larger problem than shoplifting, although it is not usually considered to be shoplifting. At least 5 percent of customers shoplift. The frequency of the offense is greatest for boys between 10 and 18 and for girls between ages 12 and 20. Despite myths to the contrary, women are not overrepresented among shoplifters, although relatively more women are caught. Most items are taken from local stores and are placed into a pocket or bag. Most shoplifting is committed in the afternoon, and Saturday is the peak day. Older shoplifters more frequently operate alone than do younger shoplifters; adults steal more at one time than do youths. Many motives are involved in shoplifting, such as thrill seeking, boredom, poverty, etc. Potential countermeasures vary according to the store's layout and marketing techniques. If store staff members are to be involved in the efforts against shoplifting, they should be motivated and involved in the problem. Offering rewards has produced remarkable results. The store detective has also been specifically created to combat shoplifting and sometimes wears a uniform to deter potential shoplifters. A good moment to stop shoplifters is as they leave the department or the store. However, only 5 to 10 percent of shoplifters are caught. Of those caught, only some are reported to the police and fewer are sentenced (usually to a fine). Over 100 references are listed.