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Criminal Defense From A Former Prosecutor

Understanding who shoplifts and why they do it

When it comes to shoplifting, the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention (NASP) argues that it's a crime that not only adversely impacts the retailer, but also causes unnecessary work for law enforcement and court systems as well. It also affects the average consumer's pocketbook as stores are forced to invest in added security measures and make up for lost revenue.

As for the number of shoplifters living in the United States, NASP reports that there are at least 27 million nationwide. Among those, a third of them have been charged with shoplifting within the past five years.

The type of stores shoplifters take from vary and the demographic that steals does as well. Women and men both equally fit the profile of an average shoplifter.

Additionally, while most might think of kids as making up the largest percentage of shoplifters, statistics do not prove this to be the case either. In fact, the NASP lists children as being responsible for only 25 percent of all instances of shoplifting whereas adults are responsible for 75 percent. Of the latter, 55 percent reported having gotten started shoplifting as teens.

As for the overall monetary value of products stolen, it ranges from $2 and $200 according to the NASP. Among the reasons shoplifters steal, for the large majority, it has to less with criminal intent and more so to do with financial pressures an individual might be under. Only a small subset of shoplifters actually steal as a profession and, of those, most do so as part of a larger criminal element for profit or to feed their drug addictions.

While many might assume shoplifters plan their crime, of those polled by the NASP, only 73 percent of adults and 72 percent of juveniles reported having had intentions of doing so in advance. Perhaps most shocking is that most shoplifters report having only been caught once in 48 different attempts at shoplifting, with only 50 percent of those cases being turned over to law enforcement.

Despite the risk associated with being caught, shoplifters are driven by the "high" they get from doing it. In fact, the NASP points to this as the main reason 57 percent of adults and 33 percent of juveniles struggle in giving the crime up.

If you or someone you know has been charged with shoplifting, a Van Nuys, California, criminal defense attorney can provide advice and guidance in your legal matter.

Source: National Association for Shoplifting Prevention, "Shoplifting statistics," accessed March 24, 2017

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