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Shoplifting is the number one property crime in the U.S. and is considered the world’s second oldest profession. Each year, retailers are faced with the reality that the holidays bring about an upward trend in shoplifting.

More than $13 billion in merchandise is stolen each year, averaging more than $35 million – about 550,000 shoplifting incidents – per day. Approximately 27 million people shoplift, which equates to about 10% of the U.S. population. It’s not just “customers” who commit theft, though; employees are common perpetrators. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce reported that $50 billion is lost annually to employee theft and fraud alone, and about 75% of employees steal at least once. Surprisingly, statistics show that more adults (75%) than juveniles (25%) shoplift.

Stores in larger cities are more likely to have more shoplifters for several reasons: 1) large cities offer anonymity; 2) they have national roadways that offer easy access and quick escape routes; and 3) busy streets offer a way to leave a store on foot unnoticed.

Recently there’s been an increased concern about violent confrontations in the apprehension of shoplifters. According to The National Retail Federation, shoplifting incidents are under-reported due to reluctance to make arrests or proceed with prosecutions. In reality, retailers, police departments and prosecutors are unlikely to make juvenile offenders face a day in court, whether for expense, lack of resources or workloads of more serious crimes.

Shoplifting and employee theft continues to be the driving force behind retail inventory shrinkage. The Global Retail Theft Barometer is a unique research tool that measures the cost of retail shrinkage due to shoplifting, employee and supplier theft, fraud, and administrative errors. With this resource, retailers will better understand shrinkage trends as well as the leading causes and methods of preventing shoplifting. Each year’s report acts as a reference point for the retail community.

Likewise, 3rd Millennium Classrooms offers STOPLifting, a three-hour online intervention course used as a sanction for individuals charged with a shoplifting or petty theft violation. It covers critical topics such as victim impact, legal repercussions, types of shoplifters, and behavior-change strategies. The course also explores justifications and consequences. STOPlifting is written in a motivational interviewing style, drawing from personalized feedback and other evidence-based approaches to help shoplifters move towards change in behavior.

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