We’re all impacted by shoplifters. Cameras follow us as we shop. Merchandisers raise their prices to cover the expense of security and lost inventory.
According to the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention (NASP) website, more than $13 billion worth of merchandise is stolen from retailers each year. An estimated 27 million people (or 1 in 11) shoplift in America.
Shoplifters rarely steal because of need. Instead, the vast majority suffer from an underlying mental disorder.
A study published in the February 2000 Canadian Journal of Psychiatry found that 30 percent of first-time offenders were clinically depressed. Three-quarters had experienced a significant loss, such as death or divorce, within the past six months.
Another study in the 2008 American Journal of Psychiatry found a link between shoplifting and impulse control, antisocial personality disorder, substance abuse, pathological gambling and bipolar disorder.
Men and women shoplift in roughly equal numbers. However, research reported in the August 2012 Journal of Nervous Mental Disorders showed that female shoplifters were more likely to have substance-abuse problems, while men experienced generalized anxiety.
Seventy-five percent of shoplifters are adults. More than half of them began stealing when they were teens.
Shoplifting is often confused with kleptomania, but the two disorders are subtly different. Kleptomania is the inability to refrain from the urge to steal and causes great anxiety for the kleptomaniac. It accounts for 5 percent of all shoplifting.
Shoplifting, on the other hand, involves a premeditated intent to steal and is often committed for the purpose of expressing anger or avenging a perceived wrong.
Wondering whether you have a shoplifting problem? Ask yourself the questions at right, provided by from the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention, and take the appropriate action to get help.
DO YOU HAVE A PROBLEM?
Do you ever shoplift to help yourself feel better?
Do you ever look forward to the next time you can get to the stores to shoplift again?
Do you find shoplifting sometimes relieves some of the stress and pressure in your life?
Do you sometimes wake up in the morning thinking about the next time you will shoplift?
Do you sometimes feel guilty, ashamed or remorseful after you shoplift?
Do you sometimes feel that shoplifting is like your best friend?
Do you plan your life so shoplifting can fit into your schedule?
Do you continue to shoplift despite knowing that it is negatively affecting your life?
Do you sometimes feel that shoplifting is an addiction for you?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, shoplifting is a problem for you. Get help ASAP to reclaim control of your behavior..
Get individual psychotherapy. A skilled and knowledgeable therapist can address such underlying issues as depression, anxiety, grief or anger.
Consider taking medication. Mood stabilizers, anti-depressants or antianxiety medications may be necessary to get your symptoms under control. A psychiatrist can prescribe the appropriate medication and monitor your progress.
Stop abusing drugs and alcohol. Join Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous to get clean and sober. Those addictive behaviors may be masking other disorders that are seriously impeding your quality of life.
Join a support group. Hopefully, you’ll locate a group in your area that specifically focuses on shoplifting. If one isn’t available, find a group that treats impulse-control problems. There are also 12-step programs for shoplifting.