Shoplifting | Office of Justice Programs (2023)


Shoplifting is an easy crime to rationalize. Shoplifters measure their financial need against business profits, consider rising consumer prices in the face of their income, and feel the need to rival peers who have impressive clothes, possessions, and lifestyles. Shoplifters come from a cross-section of society, and 80-90 percent have no criminal record. Techniques of shoplifting include (1) hiding merchandise in loose clothing, (2) palming expensive objects and substituting for them, (3) using box devices that can be placed over items that are trapped by a spring device, or (4) using a 'booster' belt with a series of hooks on which stolen objects are placed. The principal means of countering shoplifting is well-informed and conscientious employees. Employees should be instructed in common shoplifting tactics, the need for continuous surveillance of suspects in the store, and the requirement to detain suspects outside the store to avoid any question about the intent to steal. In Canada, a guilty mind and a guilty act (mens rea and actus rea) must be established for a shoplifting conviction. Pointers for an employee security training program are provided, and photographs illustrate shoplifting tactics.


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