Juveniles and Retail Crimes

Shoplifting is not just a simple retail crime committed by anyone including males, females, adults, and majority of teenagers. Shoplifting has been affecting business establishments in the United States every year causing close down of several stores. What is shoplifting? What do they shoplift the most? What time of year do they mostly shoplift? Why do people continue shoplifting even after they are caught? All these questions are relevant in to analyze why juveniles are involved in theft property such as shoplifting.

Shoplifting is an act of stealing or “lifting” properties or products in a retail store like supermarkets, drug stores, pharmacies and grocery stores. It is also called “five finger discount”  and “boosting”  (Waters, 2007). However, shoplifting is not just stealing or not paying for the items. It can also be switching of price tags, changing merchandise labels, consuming food, wearing clothes and concealing tags, and not paying the bill (Rodriguez, 2005). Shoplifters vary on age from kids to adults; race from blacks and whites to Hispanic and Asians; and behavior especially those who are alcoholic and drug addicts.

However, teenagers, aged 13 to 17, account for the large number of shoplifters based from the National Crime Prevention Council (Dowshen, 2007). However, children may also involved. In some cases, children accompany their parents in shoplifting by distracting the sales clerk. While the sales clerk is busy warding off the children, their parents steal items. Drug addicts also often steal to support their addiction (Keen, 2005). Every year, there is a $10 billion worth of losses caused by shoplifters in the United States.

In order to recover, retailers pass it on the buyers by charging higher prices in the items sold (Dowshen, 2007). The shoplifted items include from meat, baby formulas, medicine, pregnancy test, razor blades, cosmetics, CDs, cigarettes, jewelry, clothes and other household items. However, among adults, meat and baby formulas have been the top stolen goods. According to the Health and Nutrition by Dr. Michael Eades, nutritional science expert, meat is the most shoplifted item in grocery stores in America these days because meat is easier to hide and ‘nutritious’ (2007).

On the other hand, stealing baby formula has been increasing because of its high price. Besides, infant formulas are also used by drug dealers and users to dilute cocaine and heroine. Its containers are also used for illegal drugs (Ross, 2007). Among teens, the most stolen items include CDs, cosmetics and clothes. Some teens stole these items for fun while others stole to fit in their peers’ expensive wardrobe. Christmas Holiday beginning from October to December is the best time for the shoplifters because of large number of people shopping in stores where sales personnel are busy enough not to notice lost items.

It is a big dilemma for store owners because detecting shoplifters during busy days such as Christmas is a problem. The use of sophisticated technologies does not prevent shoplifters from stealing more and more items (Feather, 2007). There are many shoplifters; but are classified in two: the professional and the amateur or casual shoplifters. Professionals usually steal expensive clothing and jewelries which they sell for business. On the other hand, amateurs often steal because they cannot afford it while others steal some items like cosmetics, cigarettes, and CDs unintentionally (Dowshen, 2007).

Amateurs are usually teenagers who shoplift for several reasons such as peer pressure, addiction, budget constraint, depression and frustration. Teens who wanted to fit in with their friends with stylish clothes think of shoplifting as a way of getting one. There are also teens who do not have enough money to buy items that they want that’s why they simply steal them. Shoplifting may be a result frustration, depression and emotional breakdown caused by family or divorced parents. However, other teens steal out of boredom seeing that the stealing is a fun, daring act (Dowshen, 2007).

Some shoplifters who are caught and punished of stealing eventually stop. However, some who became addicted to this act are not able to control their behavior. Amateurs, if caught the first time, feel ashamed of their actions and tend to avoid doing it; but some who are even sent to jail do not think of stopping because they think stealing is fine unless you get caught. In California, shoplifting is a serious offense depending on its degree, either petty or grand theft. Petty type is shoplifting of items less than $400 where offenders can be sent to jail for 16 months charged with felony or misdemeanor.

Grand theft, on the other hand, includes items more than $400 such as automobiles or large-ticket items. Offenders may be punished with 12-16 months jail term. However, punishment of teenagers accused of shoplifting may vary from the adult court. Juveniles may be sent fro detention, probation, juvenile record, fines or community service (Rodriguez, 2005). Getting something you want without paying it is like a gift or reward that’s why many teens are hooked up in stealing. Almost 57% of shoplifters who were caught became addicted to it.

The feeling of excitement and rush of escaping is what they consider as a “true reward” instead of the items that they had stolen. Feeling this excitement allows them to escape from the frustration and depression that they are feeling. Addiction develops when they start of thinking of doing it again after realizing that stealing is not as hard as it might be (Berlin, 1997). Besides from shoplifting, juveniles are also involved in embezzlement and fraud. Embezzlement is related to employee theft in several instances such as stealing retail items, giving discounts to retail items, and stealing money from cash register.

In 1999, teens aged 15 to 17 accounted for the 94% of embezzlement cases (Flores, 2002). In the same year, the Office of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Program reported that there was an estimated 13, 100 juveniles arrested for fraud where 22% were aged under 15 (Synder, 2001).


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org/teen/your_mind/problems/shoplifting. html Feather, S. S. B. (2007, June 1). Hometown Business: We All Pay the Costs — Stop the Shoplifters. Retrieved October 18, 2007 from http://extension. missouri. edu/explore/miscpubs/mp0658. htm Flores, J. R. (2002 November). Juvenile Crime. Retrieved October 18, 2007 from http://www. ncjrs. gov/pdffiles1/ojjdp/191729. pdf Keen, C. (2005, April 10). Study shows shoplifters more readily identified by behavior, not race. Retrieved October, 18 2007 from http://news. ufl. edu/2005/08/10/shoplifters/ Rodriguez, S. G. (2005). Shoplifting is Stealing.

Retrieved October 18, 2007, from http://www. shopliftingattorney. com/ Ross, R. (2007, August 10). Most Shoplifted Items? Infant formula now under Lock and Key. Retrieved  October 18, 2007, from http://www. associatedcontent. com/article/342352/most_shoplifted_items_infant_formula. html Synder, H. N. (2001, December). Juvenile Offenders and Victims: National Report Series. Retrieved October 19, 2007, from http://www. ncjrs. gov/pdffiles1/ojjdp/191031. pdf Waters, S. (2007). Shoplifting. Retrieved October 18, 2007, from http://retail. about. com/od/glossary/g/shoplifting. htm