Debunking the Most Common Store Shoplifting Myths That Exist Today

Posted by Sensor Nation on

Store shoplifting is a crime that has been around since stores became prolific. However, there are many myths associated with this behavior that not everybody understands.

In order to keep your store as safe as possible, there is certain information that you should keep in mind. Let's get started with what you should know.

People Shoplift Because They Are Poor

One of the most common misconceptions about a store thief is that he or she is poor.

Many people tend to have an image of a conventional shoplifter wearing dirty clothing or appearing otherwise disheveled. In reality, there are plenty of shoplifters who are completely financially stable. In fact, it's not impossible for shoplifters to have high sources of income from their professions.

This is due to the fact that shoplifting is more about power than anything else in many circumstances. When someone steals an item from a store and get away with it, it's often an exhilarating experience full of adrenaline.


For those who seek this type of thrill, it's easy to understand why this option is preferable to simply buying the goods instead. Other people shoplift due to a sense of entitlement. Oftentimes, these individuals will feel as though society owes them something, leading them to procure goods for free.

Of course, this doesn't mean that it's impossible for shoplifters who are in financial need to exist.

Shoplifters Are Likely to Commit Other Crimes

This is yet another myth that people across the world believe.

The logic here is that if someone could commit a crime at all, then they are likely to commit other crimes in the future. Additionally, they may also believe that a shoplifter is a full-blown criminal who has no qualms about committing crimes of any type.

As you might guess, this belief isn't true. People often shoplift due to it being a relatively safe crime to commit.

Very rarely do shoplifters experience injury during the process, and many circumstances don't result in harsh legal consequences. For instance, let's assume that somebody under the age of 18 stole an item that was worth less than $10. Let's also assume that this was the first time they have ever encountered trouble with the law.

There's a significant chance that they will simply pay a fine, be assigned community service, etc. A factor to consider here is that someone who shoplifts may otherwise never encounter legal issues.

It's entirely possible for someone to be a respected member of their community while also shoplifting on a regular basis. So, it's not recommended to assume that all shoplifters are deviants who are heavily involved in criminal activity.

People Only Steal Expensive Items

This myth makes sense initially. After all, why would you put yourself at risk to steal a candy bar when you could commit the same crime and steal something of value?

However, this way of thinking overlooks the fact that many shoplifters steal for the sake of stealing. This means that they do not necessarily care about how expensive the item is that they steal — they are more concerned with getting away with it.

As previously mentioned, there is a certain thrill associated with procuring items and remaining undetected. This often stems from a deep psychological issue that can’t be attributed to somebody wanting a high-value item.

Interestingly, the inverse is often true regarding the value of the items that shoplifters steal. Cheaper items are often smaller and have less protection than expensive items do.

So, they are easy to take while going unnoticed.

People Who Shoplift Often Can Easily Stop

Shoplifting is often a type of behavior exhibited by those who have a condition known as kleptomania. For those who are unfamiliar with this term, it refers to the inability to resist stealing items.

These are often items that offer little to no value to you, as well. For example, you may be relatively well off in your life but find yourself consistently having the urge to steal products that cost less than a few bucks.

This is a relatively rare mental disorder, but the impact it has on your life can be substantial. Additionally, it can negatively affect your friends and loved ones. To help put this into perspective, imagine the breadwinner of a family is someone who also has kleptomania.

If they go to jail as a result of their actions, it could plunge the rest of the family into disarray. This is particularly true if children are involved, as there may not be an opportunity for someone to take them to school, drive them to social occasions, etc

Kleptomania stems from issues associated with behavioral self-control. Those who have kleptomania are also reluctant to publicize their condition or seek help. In reality, it often takes mental health therapy sessions in order to determine the root of this condition and begin coming up with a solution.

Shoplifters Specifically Plan Their Actions

Since shoplifting is often so impulsive, there are very few occasions where people plan their actions before they enter the store. In fact, planning shoplifting wouldn't make much sense at all in many circumstances due to the fact that you would assess the risk associated with it.

At some point during a plan to steal a $50 hoodie, the average person would likely conclude that it isn't worth potential jail time. Additionally, someone was planning to steal from a store would likely figure out how to minimize the risk involved.

It shouldn't come as a surprise that planned instances of shoplifting do exist, though. However, these aren't nearly as common. Instead, these situations are much more sporadic.

Someone might pass an item in the store they like and then decide they want to steal it. In some cases, this decision could be financially driven. They may not have the money to afford the object they want, and they may decide in that moment to steal it.

More often than not, however, it's associated with the thrill of stealing.

Store Employees Are Allowed to Stop Shoplifters

Many people are unaware of the fact that store employees are not permitted to stop shoplifters. This is a rule established to protect the safety of both the employees and the criminal.

To clarify, there's no telling whether or not the shoplifter is armed. If an employee gets into an altercation with them, they are at risk of serious injury.

Similarly, store employees who attempt to stop a shoplifter from escaping likely have not been trained on how to do so. They may inadvertently injure the shoplifter, whether it is intentional or not.

Instead, loss prevention employees are often hired in order to deal with situations like these. These employees must be alerted by conventional staff members if a shoplifting incident has occurred. Depending on the circumstances, loss prevention workers may be allowed to physically restrain shoplifters until law enforcement arrives.

However, these workers are often unarmed and are only allowed to pursue shoplifters for a certain distance. Ironically, this leads to many shoplifters getting caught because they assume that escaping store employees means they have successfully stolen the items.

Shoplifting Only Happens at Malls

Shoplifting can happen in any store.

It's a common myth that people believe shoplifting only happens at malls. This is likely due to the fact that it is easy to slip into the crowd after you steal. Similarly, a large collection of stores close to each other give shoplifters plenty of opportunity to shoplift.

The truth is that shoplifting could happen at almost any store in nearly any location. This is true even for stores situated in rural areas. Many people also overlook the fact that shopping malls have plenty of security personnel on-site.

This makes it inherently more difficult for shoplifters to succeed. In fact, it's entirely possible for a shoplifter to escape a store in a mall only to be caught by a security guard waiting for them near the exit.

So, while a good deal of shoplifting does occur at malls, these aren't the only locations. Grocery stores, convenience stores, and even drug stores are often targets.

Stores With Low Security Are The Only Stores Vulnerable

The level of security at a store is not always a deterrent to potential shoplifters.

Certain stores, such as those that sell high-end fashion items for luxury goods, have unique protective measures in place. This could be in the form of highly trained security employees, alarm systems, etc.

Stores like these might also inspect your bag before you leave — even after you have paid for the goods. However, all of these theft prevention measures can't always stop someone who is determined to make their way out of the store with high-quality merchandise.

It's true that stores with lower levels of security are easier targets for shoplifters. This doesn't mean that they are the only stores that are targeted, though. For businesses, this is an important factor to keep in mind.

Having the right level of protection in place can often mean the difference between whether or not you are able to prevent this type of behavior. It's also important to consider the reputation that your business will get if multiple people consistently steal from it. If word gets around that it's easy to shoplift at your facility, this issue may evolve into a significant problem.

People Only Shoplift Alone

Not everyone shoplifts alone. In fact, some people decide to do it together as a sort of bonding experience. In some cases, people may also shoplift in pairs where one person aims to distract store personnel.

The other individual is tasked with stealing as many goods as possible while remaining undetected. Occasionally, groups of people may shoplift at once and all attempt to escape at the same time. The logic behind this behavior is that loss prevention staff may become overwhelmed with the number of people they need to target.

So, those who are looking for potential shoplifters should only single out individuals. It's highly possible that groups of 2-3+ people could plan to shoplift at a facility.

Preventing Store Shoplifting Can Seem Overwhelming

The good news is that the above guide will help ensure that you understand everything you need to. This will help you quickly recognized store shoplifting behavior and put the necessary protections in place to your merchandise safe.

Want to learn more about what we have to offer? Feel free to get in touch with us today and see how we can help.

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