It was apparent the young, black male, about 6-foot, 190 pounds, had pocketed and stuffed numerous items into his baggy, khaki, cargo pants. We could see the outlines of several items, including cans, jars and even boxes. There were so many items hidden within his pants that he had to walk stiff-legged across the parking lot.
His accomplice was a white male waiting in the driver’s seat of a tan sedan. The shoplifter slithered his way into the back seat of the sedan.
Before I could maneuver my way around to get a view of the license plate, the driver sped away. I wish I had taken a picture as he walked slowly in front of my car.
My wife and I just looked at each other in bewilderment. How brazen or desperate could one person be to undoubtedly spend several minutes in a store stuffing his britches with groceries?
Once we entered the discount grocery store, we realized a lone cashier and an employee stocking shelves in the back were no match for this shoplifter.
No business is immune to shoplifting. And the sad result is that we all pay higher prices at the register to offset theft. And there’s plenty of shoplifting!
Following are some statistics provided by the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention (NASA), a non-profit organization providing research-based shoplifting prevention initiatives including education, prevention, justice and rehabilitation programs:
•More than $13 billion worth of goods are stolen from retailers each year. That’s more than $35 million per day!
•There are approximately 27 million shoplifters, or 1 in 11 people, in our nation today. More than 10 million people have been caught shoplifting in the last five years.
•There is no profile of a typical shoplifter. Men and when shoplift about equally as often.
•Approximately 25 percent of shoplifters are kids, 75 percent are adults; 55 percent of adult shoplifters say they started shoplifting in their teens.
•Shoplifting is often not a premeditated crime; 73 percent of adult and 72 percent of juvenile shoplifters don’t plan to steal in advance.
•89 percent of kids say they know other kids who shoplift; 66 percent say they hang out with those kids.
•Shoplifters say they are caught an average of only once in every 48 times they steal. They are turned over to the police 50 percent of the time.
• Approximately 3 percent of shoplifters are “professionals” who steal solely for resale or profit as a business. These include drug addicts who steal to feed their habit, hardened professionals who steal as a lifestyle and international shoplifting gangs who steal for profit as a business.
“Professional” shoplifters are responsible for 10 percent of the total dollar losses.
•The vast majority of shoplifters are “non-professionals” who steal, not out of criminal intent, financial need or greed but as a response to social and personal pressures in their life.
•The excitement generated from “getting away with it” produces a chemical reaction resulting in what shoplifters describe as an incredible “rush” or “high” feeling. Many shoplifters will tell you that this high is their “true reward,” rather than the merchandise itself.
•Drug addicts, who have become addicted to shoplifting, describe shoplifting as equally addicting as drugs.
•57 percent of adults and 33 percent of juveniles say it is hard for them to stop shoplifting even after getting caught.
•Habitual shoplifters steal an average of 1.6 times per week.
Jack McNeely is Publisher of the Daily Mountain Eagle and can be reach by phone at 205-221-2840 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.