To shoplift is to knowingly obtain goods or merchandise from an establishment in which they are displayed for sale, without paying the purchase price. This act can include carrying, hiding, concealing, or otherwise manipulating merchandise with the intent to steal it.
Shoplifting issues are the most common contributors to external shrink, having developed into a multibillion-dollar problem that ultimately affects each and every one of us. Not only do these losses affect a company’s bottom line in a variety of different ways, but they also impact us as consumers in the form of higher prices, fewer choices, greater inconveniences, and a reduction in services as businesses attempt to find ways to fight external theft incidents and recover damages.
Shoplifters are not bound by age, gender, race, social background, or any other traits that make us unique and distinctive as human beings. This type of theft isn’t always based on need, and many different incentives may influence the motivation to steal. While every situation has its own merits, the motivations for shoplifting can be as different as the individual.
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Unfortunately, many amateur shoplifters fail to think through the potential consequences of their actions, or misjudge the potential risks of being caught, and make a poor decision. And for the professional shoplifter, their evaluation of risk and reward is based on different motives. Rather, the decision to steal has more to do with the availability, accessibility, demand for and value of the merchandise. When the attraction of the merchandise is coupled with the opportunity to take the items for profit or gain, they see the risk as justified.
Opportunity is often a primary element in the formula for theft. This is also the type of theft motivation that loss prevention professionals have the greatest probability of deterring, and is often at the center of many of training and awareness programs. By providing good customer service and maintaining appropriate controls, many of the opportunities for shoplifting and theft can be eliminated.