Informative Essay: Shoplifting
Length: 1602 words (4.6 double-spaced pages)
Shoplifting is a very big problem in America. Shoplifting affects more than the offender. It overburdens the police and the courts, adds to a store's security expenses, costs consumers more for goods, costs communities lost dollars in sales taxes and hurts children and families. Not all shoplifters are the same, there are two distinct types. There are also many ways to help prevent shoplifting.
The consumer is affected in a few different ways because of shoplifting. For the consumer who shoplifts, which is usually a teenager or senior citizen, the law affects them. No shoplifter will never get caught even though that is what most believe. As shoplifters steal for longer periods of time, and their shoplifting progresses as they start to steal bigger and more expensive items more frequently. As time goes they start to become involved with car shopping, stealing cars, and breaking in to houses. Shoplifting has consequences, which vary from getting your parents called all the way to large amounts of jail time. Even people who accompany shoplifters are in danger; for being with a shoplifter is almost as bad as shoplifting. That is why it is important to stay away from people who are shoplifting. If it is your friend who is shoplifting the best is to try to get him to stop. You could do this by telling him not to, reminding him of the consequences, and maybe even threatening to tell authority if has to come to that. If someone ever asks you to steal you should know the answer is no way no how, because getting in trouble with law will mess up your entire life. For the consumer who does not shoplift, they have the problem of always being suspected. Because of shoplifting, some stores in my area do not allow minors to enter with out an adult. Many stores will ask you "if you are going to pay for that?" It becomes quite annoying when store owners hound you while you are shopping or ask you to leave if you are taking too long when you are actually just browsing.
Shoplifters affect the Store Owner heavily. The number one reason for small, new business's to close is shoplifting. Approximately 10% of consumers enter a store and shoplift. It is very hard to run a store when 10% of your store is stolen from you.
The other factor is security equipment. It is expensive to run security precautions in your store, which is why so many small stores have none. When a store becomes big enough to afford good security equipment such as cameras and a security/ surveillance team then it is worth it. Security usually pays it self off from the money they get from shoplifters. When a person is caught for shoplifting they expect forgiveness because to them it does not seem that big of a deal. The only problem is that that person is not the only one. It probably happens pretty regularly. Future store owners are affected by shoplifting. If you live in a bad area or maybe even any area for that matter, you are open to shoplifting. Since most future storeowners are aware of the damages of shoplifting they are discouraged from opening their own store.
Shoplifting affects our economy. The big problem is that it inflates prices. The only way that a store can maintain when almost 10% of their store is being robbed is to raise prices. It is not fair that some people can steal and others work hard and pay which is the honest way. If a store has to close down then that cuts jobs. One store may not seem like a big difference, but when stores are closing every day because they can't maintain a stable business because of shoplifters: it has a big influence. The loss of jobs then accounts for more unemployed, which equals a worse economy. If a future storeowner decides it is not a good idea then this also cuts down jobs. It is estimated that the United States economy loses ten billion dollars due to shoplifting a year. That is around twenty-five million dollars a day. That is ten billion dollars businesses need to compensate for. Another point for why shoplifting is hurting our economy is that we have to pay out of taxes for the burden of police and courts. It also hurts communities in sales tax.
There are two types of shoplifters, Professional shoplifters and non-professional shoplifters. Professional shoplifters are addicts who steal to buy drugs (a drug problem, not a shoplifting problem) or hardened criminals who steal for resale as a lifestyle. These individuals usually commit other types of crimes and lack any conscience or guilt. The usual approaches with them are treatment centers or jail. Non-Professional shoplifters are the people who make up the majority of shoplifters and who steal for a few different reasons, mostly related to common life situations and their personal ability (or inability) to cope. They include people who are depressed, frustrated, anxious, influenced by peers, thrill seekers or kleptomaniacs. Shoplifting is rarely about greed, poverty or values. It is about people struggling with personal conflicts and needs. These people know right from wrong, they know there are consequences and they often have the money to pay, but they continue to steal anyway. These people steal items they often don't need and sometimes don't use. While many non-professional shoplifters steal from stores on a regular basis, they usually have no prior criminal record (except perhaps for shoplifting) and are typically the kind of people who don't commit other types of crimes. Their behavior is less related to criminal intent and more the result of emotional or psychological problems in need of attention. Research shows that nationwide there are thousands of shoplifters who continually repeat the offense and want to stop...but can't. Their shoplifting has become a habit or even an addiction, and they are too ashamed or afraid to tell. Other shoplifters simply deny they have a problem of any kind. Psychological profiles and admissions by shoplifters revealed that 1 out of 3 shoplifters are "at risk" of repeating the offense after getting caught.
The best approach for non-professional shoplifters is for the community to make available a treatment program at a time when shoplifters will be most receptive to it...that is, when caught and/or prosecuted.
There are many different types of security. There are security systems that work, and there are those which may be broken or are just for looks. No one can really tell the difference, and it usually gets the point across that he or she should not steel from there. The basic security system is the detectors found at the entrance of stores. I have seen these work, but also know stores which my friends work at in which they say do not. The problem with the detectors is that you have to place a clip of some sort on all merchandise if you want it to be detected when going threw a detector. The plus to this system is that in dramatically reduces the rate of shoplifting in the store and is relatively cheep. Another strategy is the ink tags, which is commonly used by department stores. These can sometimes also be detected with metal detectors at the front of stores. These are not very expensive and usually get good results. The one problem is that when people catch on they will steel the items anywise and either cut, or break of the ink tag. There are sites on the Internet, which have methods of removing these pieces. Another higher way of protection is a surveillance system. For a surveillance system to actually catch shoplifters it must be very advanced. This usually costs a lot of money but usually pays it self off with caught shoplifters. There are companies that will install surveillance systems and then run them by having security employees monitor the system. Many stores only have a camera for the cash register, which will only help if the store is held up. This is for identification purposes. Other stores have false or broken cameras. These usually scare the shoplifters away. For the surveillance systems, which are expensive and high tech, they are usually hidden. Their purpose is to catch shoplifters rather then scare them away. Usually when music stores, electronic stores, department stores, and other types of stores seem unprepared for shoplifting they have a highly advanced surveillance system. The point of wanting to catch the shoplifters is that they can not only be charged with criminal charges, but also with civil.
From the research I have done, and from writing this essay I have learned a lot about shoplifting. One thing I found out is that the Internet is a very resourceful way to find out about illegal actions. There were many web sites that told how to shoplift or how to not get caught. Since we have the freedom of speech there is not much we can do about this, but I think there should be a law on censoring these sights such as pornography is censored. I don’t think it is a good idea for an adult to go to these sights because it influences temptation, but adults should be able to make the right decision. Even though statistics show that a high percentage of adults theft. I am happy to say that I have not shop lifted since I have been caught and have been confronted to steel and simply and easily said I don't steal anymore. I am proud of my accomplishment and share my knowledge with my friends to change their minds about shoplifting.