SHOPLIFTING – an “opportunistic crime” that is costing the ECONOMY BILLIONS

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Shoplifting is a crime that affects virtually almost every business sector in society. The consequences of shoplifting ultimately affect business owners and employees, business patrons, and the perpetrators in an unfavourable way. The consequences of shoplifting in some cases set up new businesses to fail.
Businesses lose a huge amount of money as a result of shoplifting and are forced to put security measures in place to prevent their businesses from suffering further loss.
In addition to lost profits, the consequences also force businesses to raise prices and the consumer – you – to pay for items at a higher price.

The legal consequences of shoplifting can include any or all of prison time, punitive fines, community service hours, and more. Offenders are often prohibited from entering a business from which they stole goods. Shoplifting is not a game and has a negative impact and could land you with a criminal record.

Shoplifting is the unnoticed theft of goods from an open retail establishment. Shoplifting typically involves a person concealing a store item on their person, in pockets or under clothes (or in a bag, baby stroller, etc.) and leaving the store without paying for it. With clothing, shoplifters may put on items from the store and leave the store wearing the clothes. The terms “shoplifting” and “shoplifter” are not usually defined in law. The crime of shoplifting generally falls under the legal classification of larceny. Shoplifting is distinct from burglary (theft by breaking into a closed store), robbery (stealing by threatening or engaging in violent behaviour) or armed robbery (stealing by using a weapon). In the retail industry, the word shrinkage or shrink can be used to refer to merchandise lost by shoplifting, but the word also includes loss by other means, such as waste, uninsured damage to products, and theft by store employees.

Shoplifters range from amateurs acting on impulse, to career criminals who habitually engage in shoplifting as a form of income. Career criminals may use several individuals to shoplift, with some participants distracting store employees while another participant steals items. Amateurs typically steal products for personal use, while career criminals generally steal items to resell them in the underground economy. Other forms of shoplifting include swapping price labels of different items, return fraud or eating a grocery store’s food without paying for it. Commonly shoplifted items are those with a high price in proportion to their sizes, such as disposable razor blades, vitamins, alcoholic beverages and cigarettes. Retailers have reported that 0.6% of their inventory is lost to shoplifting.

Stores use a number of strategies to reduce shoplifting, including storing small, expensive items in locked glass cases; chaining or otherwise attaching items to shelves or clothes racks (particularly expensive items); attaching magnetic or radio sensors or dye-packs to items; installing curved mirrors mounted above shelves or video cameras and video monitors, hiring plainclothes “store detectives” and security guards, and banning the bringing in of backpacks or other bags. Some stores have security guards at the exit, who search backpacks and bags and check receipts. Stores also combat shoplifting by training employees on how to detect potential shoplifters.

Concealing – Shoplifters may conceal items in their pockets, under their clothes, in bags such as backpacks, or in a personal item they are carrying (e.g., a box) or pushing (e.g., a stroller or personal wire shopping cart) or if at a shopping center/mall, a bag from another store in that center. The use of backpacks and other bags to shoplift has led some stores to not allow people with backpacks in the store, often by asking the person to leave their backpack at a store counter.[citation needed] With clothes, shoplifters may put on the store clothing underneath their own clothes and leave the store.

Walkout/pushout –
Some shoppers fill a shopping cart with unconcealed merchandise and walk out of the store without paying. Security workers call this method “walkout” or “push out”. With clothing, some shoplifters may simply put on a coat or jacket from the store and walk out wearing the item. This tactic is used because busy employees may simply not notice a person pushing a cart out without paying or walking out wearing a store-owned coat. Some “pushout” shoplifters purposefully exit quickly to avoid detection, as this gives employees less time to react.
Many stores instruct employees other than those directly involved in theft prevention or security to only confront someone verbally, so as to avoid any possibility of being held liable for injury or unwarranted detention. While this may allow stolen goods to not be recovered, the loss of revenue may be judged to be acceptable in light of the cost of a potential lawsuit or an employee being injured by a fleeing shoplifter.

Prevention Methods:

– Closed-circuit television (CCTV)
– Electronic article surveillance – Electronic article surveillance (EAS) are magnetic or radio-frequency tags that sound an alarm if a shoplifter leaves a store with store items that have not been paid for
– Radio-frequency identification (RFID) is an anti-employee-theft and anti-shoplifting technology used in retailers
– Exit inspections
– Display cases
– Retail bag check exit policy
– Security Guards on entry and exit points
– Roaming security guards



For more information about COVID-19 please visit: COVID-19 Corona Virus South African Resource Portal