Why do people shoplift?

FAQs About Shoplifting

Why do people shoplift?

woman stealing shopliftingThe National Association for Shoplifting Prevention (NASP) suggests three main reasons why people shoplift.

The answer is… to most non-professional shoplifters,”getting something for nothing” is like giving themselves a “gift” or “reward,” which in turn gives them a “lift.” Many people feel they need a “lift” just to get through the week or even the day. A study by MasterCard International found that shopping was second only to dining as the primary way people reward themselves. Take it one step further and you can see how “shoplifting” the merchandise increases the reward.

Substitution for a Loss or Perceived Loss

Shoplifters may feel deprive of something tangible or intangible and seek relief by stealing to relieve anxiety. For example, shoplifting behavior may begin or become worse after the loss of a loved one, during or after a divorce, loss of a job, etc.

People may begin to steal if they feel the loss of income even when other options are available to them (i.e., help from family, food banks, state assistance) because the loss they are really reacting to is an emotional loss and feeling of no longer being in control.

A Sense of Deserving of More

Another motive shoplifters report is feeling a lack of balance in reciprocity. That is, they feel that they give more to others than they get back, and therefore, stealing is “justified payback” to themselves for all they give to others and how little they get back in return.

Emotional Relief

Stealing can be a distraction from feeling a variety of emotions and act as temporary relief mechanism for anxiety, frustration, boredom or depression. Several studies have shown that nearly one third of all shoplifters have been previously diagnosed with some form of clinical depression.

The most common feeling report by shoplifters is that shoplifting behavior is the person who steals often feels like some part of their life may be out of the control or that they have suffered a wrongdoing by someone else. Stealing makes them feel like they have control or power over some small aspect of the life. The “reward” feeling is temporary and may be followed by anger or guilt, and the compulsion to steal again becomes stronger in order to relieve these feelings.

More FAQs About Shoplifting

FAQs About Expungement of Records for Shoplifting Arrests and Convictions

Source: Peter Berlin. National Association for Shoplifting Prevention. Root Causes of Shoplifting:  Why do shoplifters steal?

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