Shoplifting and Kleptomania

FAQS About Shoplifting

Is shoplifting the same thing as kleptomania?

Habitual Shoplifting can be a Warning Sign of Kleptomania

Shoplifting is a CrimeAccording to New Jersey shoplifting and retail theft law, the term “shoplifting” encompasses many things including stealing something by concealing it, switching or altering price tags to get a cheaper price for an item, or even consuming food or beverages in the store to avoid paying for them. If you did not pay the full price intended by the seller, you may be guilty of shoplifting.

Just because someone steals something does not mean that are a kleptomaniac, however, habitual stealing or shoplifting can be a warning sign of having kleptomania. People who are driven to steal and cannot resist the urge, may have kleptomania.

Kleptomania – A Powerful Urge to Steal

Kleptomania is a serious mental health disorder believed to be an imuplese control disorder. An impulse control disorder is one where a person is unable to resist the temptation or urges to do something even when it is harmful to themselves or someone else.

People suffering from kleptomania take things because they are driven to steal and have a hard time resisting the urge to steal. The Mayo Clinic describes kleptomania as an “irresistible urge to steal items that you don’t really need and that usually have little value.”

Treatment for Kleptomania

There is no known cure for Kleptomania, however, treatment with medication and psychotherapy has been shown to be effective for many people with the disorder in helping them to stop the cycle of compulsive stealing.

Causes of Kleptomania

No one knows for sure what causes kleptomania. However, it is now suspected that kleptomania may be linked to deficiencies in the level of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is the chemical that regulates moods and emotions. The May Clinic suggests that there is also at least some evidence that kleptomania “may be related to addictive disorders or to obsessive-compulsive disorder.”

Symptoms of Kleptomania

In order for a person to be diagnosed with kleptomania:(1)

  • An inability to resist urges to steal objects that aren’t needed for personal use or monetary value.
  • A feeling of increasing tension leading up to the theft.
  • A feeling of pleasure, relief or gratification is felt during the act of stealing.
  • The theft isn’t committed as a way to exact revenge or to express anger, and isn’t done while hallucinating or delusional.
  • The stealing isn’t related to manic episodes of bipolar disorder or other mental health disorders, such as antisocial personality disorder.

(1) Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Definition of Kleptomania

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