As a retail business owner, you may not know the full facts about shoplifting. But it's definitely something you'll want to educate yourself on.
Some of the details about what goes on are very alarming. And while there are worrying facts about shoplifting techniques and the effects shoplifters can have on a business, it's best you know them.
Here are some facts about shoplifting in America that will prompt you to consider loss prevention in your business.
The Cold Hard Stats
According to the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention (NASP) as much as $13 billion worth of goods is shoplifted each year from American retailers and businesses. This amounts to around $35 million every single day.
However, it was calculated that in 2016, nearly $50 billion was lost due to shoplifting in America, according to a survey conducted by National Retail Security.
The stats - kept by the NASP to advise the public and businesses about retail shoplifting - show us that 1 in 11 people have committed this crime, on average.
Out of this vast amount, only 10 million individuals have been caught doing it in the last 5 years. This equates to 1 in 48 shoplifters. Beyond that, only half of them are reported to the authorities.
Retail inventory loss from shoplifting can fluctuate from between 7%-2.2% of gross sales with the average falling around 1.70%. In some cases, stores have ended up being forced to shut down. Even chains have been known to do this thanks to their major losses.
The different store types suffer differing losses, but it can be safely stated that one-third of total inventory shrinkage in the USA is due to the results of shoplifting.
Across America, 1-1.2 million shoplift incidents are estimated to take place every single day, which equates to $19,000-$25,300 stolen every minute.
The trend in shoplifting is therefore in a rather dire state in America. The circumstances between shoplifters vary - from those unable to afford food to those who are opportunists.
Others feel no guilt in doing it if they can get away with shoplifting from a large retail chain, given the high sales volume these places turnover. But shoplifting is not a victimless crime.
The large losses that can come of petty theft can affect businesses in such a way that the retailer is often forced to up their prices to cover the costs. This, in turn, affects the customers who pay for the goods as they should.
It Takes All Types
It's important to note that there is not one "type" of person who is a shoplifter. As mentioned above, it can be anyone from a cash-strapped single parent to a middle-class opportunist.
The NASP reports that it is not specific to a gender either. Nor is it applicable to any particular age group. Underage people who shoplift only make up around 25%. 55% of shoplifters started when they were underage but continue to commit this crime in adulthood. It's also rare that shoplifters commit other crimes on top of this particular one.
What is Shoplifting?
Legally, shoplifting is defined as the theft of merchandise from a store or business establishment. It derives from larceny, which is defined as "the unauthorized taking and removal of the property of another with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of that property".
But differing states offer varying rules and definitions when it comes to this crime. Some states have specific laws and specifications in place when it comes to this crime.
The different definitions also lead to differing penalties for shoplifting from a retailer.
In Florida, for example, shoplifting is referred to as "retail theft". It's definition states that a shoplifter is an individual that takes away any merchandise, property, or money from a store.
The consequences of shoplifting in Florida do vary from store to store and are dependant on the value of the goods stolen. The penalty given is often also dependant on any past criminal record the shoplifter might have already.
Facts About Detention
Once a retailer catches someone shoplifting, they have to enforce detention, and this is not without serious risks.
It is likely that physically stopping someone from leaving the store is required, which can be daunting - especially if the guilty party is larger or aggressive. What's more, the merchant is liable to be sued by the shoplifter if they are treated beyond protocol.
As a retailer or business owner, it's important to know the laws and correct methods in place for this eventuality. Allegations of false arrest, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, excessive use of force, and assault are all reasons that customers have sued merchants in past cases.
Penalties (and why you Need Loss Prevention)
Shoplifting penalties have admittedly become more lenient in recent times. Prior to today's current economy and financial climate, a thief would be immediately transported to a police station, often being sent to jail straight away.
But today there are stretched budgets to consider, as a retailer. In addition, serious crime is rife and there are fewer jobs for security guards to be physically on watch in a store. This has bounced on to the police - who may be busier with more major criminal cases at a certain time.
Today it's likely if you catch a shoplifter and the police are called, that they will fine them, issue them with a citation and potentially hit them with a notice to appear in court. But in Los Angeles, for example, police stopped turning up to reports of petty crime from as early as the 1980s.
This is why loss prevention is key.
Now you Know the Facts About Shoplifting... What Next?
Sensornation has more than a decade of practical experience providing merchandising and loss prevention solutions. We have done this for the likes of large corporations in the US and Latin America, as well as retailers of products ranging from electronics to consumer goods.
We have a simple goal: to provide clients with effective and innovative anti-theft solutions to reduce inventory losses.
Clients should feel happy to display merchandise, making them accessible to their patrons, without added worry about shoplifters in the store.
Sensornation provides clients with a fully-integrated solution that combines security with merchandise displays.
Now you know the facts about shoplifting, contact us for more information to protect your business.