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Shoplifting: Not a gender-specific crime

Shoplifting is a crime that can get you into trouble with the law. Often, it's associated with women, because society promotes that women shop much more frequently than men. The reality is that both women and men can and do shoplift.

Statistics from Shoplifting Prevention show that there are around 27 million people who shoplift in the United States. Of those, around 10 million have been caught shoplifting in the last five years. Shoplifting doesn't just happen in department stores or clothing stores but also in supermarkets, music stores and thrift shops.

Who is most likely to shoplift?

There isn't a typical shoplifter, despite what some might think. Men and women shoplift at similar rates, and although kids are often assumed to shoplift more often, the reality is that around 75 percent of shoplifters are adults. Approximately 55 percent of adult shoplifters began doing so in their teens.

How does a person typically shoplift?

Shoplifters generally buy and steal merchandise during a visit, because this makes them less likely to be stopped if an alarm sounds. In most cases, shoplifting isn't premeditated, and shoplifters are only caught around once in every 48 times they steal. Around 3 percent of shoplifters are people who steal to resell items or to fund their own businesses. These individuals are responsible for around 10 percent of the losses stores suffer as a result of shoplifting.

Should shoplifters be held accountable for their actions?

The reality is that the majority of people who shoplift did not premeditate the crime and aren't professionals. They may not have criminal backgrounds or an interest in reselling an item. Depending on the age of the shoplifter, it may be a better option to simply return or pay for the item that was stolen. For repeat offenders or older offenders, reporting the individual to the police might be a store's policy.

As someone accused of shoplifting, know that you may be turned over to the police if the store owner has evidence that you shoplifted. It's possible for store owners to use security footage or a worker's testimony to make accusations against you. Some stores will go as far as to prosecute, even if the value of stolen goods is low. No matter what your situation is, it's always in your best interests to devise a defense to accusations against you. If you don't, you could be held liable for actions that affect you for a lifetime.

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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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