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Don't become a shoplifting statistic

It's estimated that there are 27 million shoplifters in the United States. That breaks down to about one out of every 11 individuals. In a recent five-year period, over 10 million people got caught shoplifting.

If you have fallen prey to the temptation to do a little five-finger discount shopping, you may even be one of them.

Who's doing the lifting?

Retail industry insiders with the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention insist that shoplifters don't fit any specific profiles.

Shoplifting is done at the same rate by those of both gender and the vast majority -- 75 percent -- is done by adults. Only a quarter of the shoplifting is done by minors, although over half of the adults who shoplift admit to beginning the practice while still teenagers.

Many times, the shoplifting occurs spontaneously, as nearly three-quarters of kids and adults who shoplifted said that they did so without any premeditation. Frequently, shoplifting occurs at the same time as a purchase. The items taken typically are valued anywhere from $2 up to $200.

A small percentage of shoplifters (3 percent) are "shoplifting professionals," meaning that they rip-off stores for profit. A lot of drug addicts fall into this category in order to be able to stave off withdrawals. There are also pros who steal as a business and even fulfill requests, as well as gangs of international shoplifters.

Where does it take place?

Shoplifting happens at every variety of retail venue, such as:

-- Thrift shops

-- Discount warehouses

-- Department stores

-- Supermarkets

-- Music stores

-- Convenience stores

-- Specialty shops

-- Drug stores

What is the risk?

Shoplifters admit to getting caught only about once for every 48 thefts. Even then, the police are involved only about half of the time. Most shoplifters steal because of an inability to cope with life's pressures.

Just like addicts, shoplifters get addicted to their habit, which may become a co-addiction for some. The euphoric rush of walking out of the store with pilfered merchandise becomes the reward instead of the stolen goods.

Those who shoplift non-professionally typically aren't involved in other criminal activities. They won''t rifle through your purse when your back is turned or write bad checks. Yet 57 percent of the adults admit that they haven't been able to quit shoplifting even if they have gotten caught. On average, habitual shoplifters swipe goods 1.6 times each week.

If you recognize yourself in the above statistics, it may be time to add the telephone number of a Long Island criminal defense attorney to the contact list on your smartphone. Sooner or later, everybody gets caught. When your number is up, your attorney may be able to get you acquitted or a plea bargain deal that includes offense-specific counseling and rehabilitation.

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Suffolk County Defenders Association New York State Defenders Association | Founded 1967 New York State Bar Association Suffolk County Bar Association | NY 1908

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