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Statistics of Shoplifting

NCJ Number
Security World Volume: 17 Issue: 8 Dated: (August 1980) Pages: 26-29
R K Griffin
Date Published
4 pages
Based on the 17th annual survey of shoplifting by Commercial Service Systems, Inc., of Van Nuys, Calif., this article discusses reasons for shoplifting, reasons for prosecution, and characteristics of shoplifters.
The survey was based on 20,111 apprehensions reported during 1979 from the following sources: 746 supermarkets from 12 companies reporting 14,656 cases; 125 drug stores from 3 companies reporting 4,015 cases; and 46 discount stores from 4 companies reporting 1,440 cases. Because merchants prosecute shoplifters in order to limit shoplifting, rather than to punish as many people as possible, the average rate of prosecution by the reporting companies was 34.1 percent. Among companies reporting 700 or more cases, the prosecution rate ranged from a low of 16.5 percent to a high of 75.2 percent. In addition, tardy police may add to the shoplifting problem. A total of 66.6 percent of all shoplifters reported were under 30 years of age; 6.2 percent were under 12 years of age; 26.7 percent were between 12 and 17 years of age; and 33.7 percent were between 18 and 29 years. The 12 to 17 year old age group was the most troublesome in relation to its size within the general population. Members of this group were apprehended at approximately 2 1/2 times the rate one might expect based on their actual numbers. The largest percentage of apprehensions occurred between 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. Generally shoplifters do not steal out of need; human imperfection and the temptation to gamble may play a role. Because shoplifting is a business expense, it is not only the merchant's problem, but also the consumer's problem. Tabular data are included.


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