What Happens If You Get Caught Shoplifting? Well, It Varies.

what happens if you get caught shoplifting

Shoplifting and larceny crimes cost retailers billions of dollars each year. Beyond the cost of the stolen merchandise, retail organizations must also consider costs hidden in processing the incident, following up with court proceedings, managing surveillance and security technologies, and dealing with lost sales and out-of-stocks.

However, retailers have tools at their discretion to deal with these hefty losses. So what happens if a shoplifter gets caught shoplifting in 2019? What’s the standard process? It turns out the response to shoplifting has changed over the years, and retailers are continually debating the best way to handle the problem. There isn’t a single straightforward response to address all situations.

Specific examples of the ways in which retailers today respond to criminal behavior are found throughout a feature article by Walter E. Palmer, CFI, CFE, and Jacque Brittain, LPC, who produced the piece for the January-February 2019 issue of LP Magazine. In the article, Palmer and Brittain talk about the way law enforcement reactions to shoplifting incidents have changed over the years:

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In some instances, businesses have been threatened with fines or the intent to declare the retailer as a public nuisance due to the frequency of police calls made to deal with shoplifting and other criminal incidents. In other situations, police have asserted that they will not respond to theft incidents under a predetermined dollar amount. There are even those jurisdictions that have announced they simply won’t respond to shoplifting incidents at all, believing that police resources are better spent by focusing on “more serious crimes” other than those that cost retail companies tens of billions of dollars each and every year.

For example, in March 2018, Chief Erika Shields of the Atlanta Police Department announced that officers will no longer be responding to shoplifting calls at department stores. “You can only do so much,” said Chief Shields. “We are going to change how we handle shoplifting calls, and primarily, for the most part, we will not be responding to them. Every time we make a shoplifting arrest, that officer is out of service for sixty to ninety minutes. It’s not acceptable.”

The authors go on to discuss decriminalization and the recent reductions in sanctions for larceny, and what those decisions have meant to retailers throughout the United States. The article also touches on ramifications of the opioid epidemic and possibilities for alternative solutions that, ideally, will deter others when they see the reality of what happens if you get caught shoplifting. Check out the full article, “Shoplifting Response, Reaction, and Recourse,” to learn more.

For more great LP content, visit the Table of Contents for theJanuary–February 2019 issue or register for a FREE print or digital subscription to the magazine. [Note: if you’re already a logged-in subscriber, the previous link will take you to the current issue instead.]

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