New Survey Reveals More Than 40% of Adults Have Shoplifted

Editor’s note: What follows is a summary of this survey’s findings. Readers should be aware that the original survey results do not state who was included in the survey or the demographics of respondents. Also, in any research summary, it’s important to know exactly what questions were asked and what options were given if they were multiple-choice. It is difficult to reach conclusions based on this data without knowing more about the research methodology. 

A recent survey by Express Legal Funding, conducted with the help of SurveyMonkey, has revealed many surprising statistics about shoplifting, including that more than 40 percent of American adults report having stolen merchandise from a store before.

With more than 535 consumer participants, the commissioned study provides insights into the demographics, motivations, and hesitance related to shoplifting behavior, offering a detailed understanding of this pervasive issue.

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The survey uncovers several notable findings, including:

Overall Prevalence:

  • 40% of respondents admitted to having shoplifted at least once.
  • 66% of respondents in all age groups know someone who has shoplifted before, indicating that this behavior is widespread across different generations.

Gender Differences:

  • Women shoplift more than men—43% of women respondents reported prior shoplifting, while only 37% of men said they shoplifted before.
  • Women are consistently more likely than men to know someone who has shoplifted, with a difference of roughly 10% in each region.

Age Trends:

  • The likelihood of shoplifting decreases with age, with the 18-24 age group reporting the highest likelihood of shoplifting in the next two years, while the 55-plus group shows the lowest.


  • Financial hardship was the most prevalent and consistently cited primary reason for shoplifting across all demographics (52% overall).
  • Seeking a high or thrill from stealing was reported as the main factor for shoplifting by 19% of the respondents.


  • The most commonly cited reason for hesitation towards retail theft across all regions is the belief that shoplifting is morally wrong or against their religion (70%), followed by the fear of getting in trouble with the police.

Technology Trend

  • More Android phone users (17%) report they will likely shoplift within the next two years, while only 13% of iPhone users said they were likely to.

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