Article

Shoplifting — An Ordinary Crime?

Authors:
To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the authors.

Abstract

Studied a sample of 32 shoplifters referred for psychiatric assessment. Some demographic, epidemiological and criminological characteristics of the sample are reviewed. It is concluded that the 3 factors leading to a shoplifting act by "unusual shoplifters" are an extrinsic factor, namely the sales technique, and 2 intrinsic factors, a passive-aggressive personality and a stressful interpersonal situation. (24 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

No full-text available

Request Full-text Paper PDF

To read the full-text of this research,
you can request a copy directly from the authors.

... In fact, it has become increasingly difficult to create a profile of a typical shoplifter. On demographic variables such as age, gender, education level, employment and marital status there are more significant differences between shoplifters and other criminals than between shoplifters and the general population (Arboleda-Florez et al., 1977; Bradford & Balmaceda, 1983; Sohier, 1969). ...
... This, he adds is particularly pertinent to the communication intervention strategies designed to reduce incidents of shoplifting. With regard to punitive measures, although Gibbens (1981) and Sohier (1969) feel that a simple system of "deterrent fines", as for traffic violations, would be sufficient in eliminating the problem of recidivism, Walsh (1978) feels that fining only reduces the reaction to shoplifting to a monetary issue. He advocates increasing measures of security, and places most of the responsibility for crime prevention on the direct victim, the merchant. ...
... Aversive forms of social stimulation or peer pressure (e.g., Farrington, 1973Farrington, , 1999Moore, 1984;Nadeau et al., 2019;Schwartz, & Wood, 1991) have also been hypothesized to evoke stealing suggesting social negative reinforcement functions. Countercontrol or stealing as retaliation for mistreatment has also been suggested (Arboleda-Florez et al., 1977;Bauer, 1973;Bettelheim, 1985;Gerlinghoff & Backmund, 1987;Miller & Klungness, 1989;Möller, 1977;Renshaw, 1977;Schlueter et al., 1989), although functional interpretation is hindered due to temporal discontinuity between victimhood and revenge. Last, although task-related negative reinforcement contingencies (e.g., escape from work prompts) are prominent for other problem behaviors (Beavers et al., 2013;Hanley et al., 2003;Iwata, Pace, et al., 1994), such a hypothesis would seem unlikely in relation to stealing and no published examples are known. ...
... (Arboleda, Durie, and Costello, 1977), peer group influence and entertainment (Jackson, 1990; Rosenberg and Silverstein, 1969; Sanders, 1981), financial bene- fits (Cameron, 1964; Moore, 1984 When compared with data on criminality in the general population of males within the city over the same period, Snow, Baker and Anderson (1989) discovered that the homeless had a higher overall arrest rate, and that the majority of offenses for which they were arrested were for public intoxication, followed by theft/shoplifting, violations of city ordinances, and burglary. provided a justification for juveniles for their delinquent behaviors and the rich-poor difference might appear to be an excuse. ...
... Even though shoplifting might appear "ordinary" (Arboleda-Florez et al., 1977, Ecenbarger, 1988, Wilkes, 1978, it affects everyone (at least financially). In 2010 British retailers lost goods and cash costing £3.7 billion (Bamfield, 2011). ...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Crimes defined as “acts attracting legal punishment” are injurious to the community because they violate moral rules (Blackburn, 1993). However, not all crimes are deemed worthy of a custodial sentence. For example, the criminal act of shoplifting usually only results in jail time for repeated offences (Doughty, 2006). And research indicates that the threat of imprisonment may not be an effective deterrent for potential shoplifters (Gonnerman, 2004). The notion that shoplifting is detached from the victim (Wilkes, 1978, Ecenbarger, 1988) and common to all socioeconomic classes affords the perception that shoplifting is a “victimless crime” to many. In this paper we suggest an alternative approach to tackling the problem. We examine whether deterrents engaging ‘nudge theory’ (Thaler and Sunstein, 2008) can discourage shoplifting. We review ‘design against crime’ literature and compare case studies to explore a new approach to preventing crime, using nudge as a theoretical framework. Our paper discusses how ‘rationality’ may influence criminal behaviour; that individuals indulge a “moment” of rational thinking before acting and how contemporary ‘design against crime’ techniques manipulate this thought-process to deter criminal behaviour. We argue that ‘nudge theory’ provides an interesting antithesis. To design against shoplifting using the theory of “nudge” we assert that people make choices non-rationally and can be deterred from situational crimes by designing environments with different contextual cues (Bonell et al., 2011) that deter crime. We call upon the design research community to discuss; debate and design with nudge theory as a preventative approach to shoplifting.
Article
Five patterns of shoplifting were identified in a clinical study of 300 shoplifters conducted in a court setting. 67.6 per cent reported weekly shoplifting. Overall, 56 per cent were males. Among adults, 56.5 per cent were women. Character defects (personality disorders), not mental illnesses, were the pre dominant form of pathology according to guidelines in DSM-III. Financial benefit was the primary motivation in 67.7 per cent of the cases. Economic disadvantage appeared to be a contri buting factor in 72 per cent of the adult chronic shoplifters. Mental illnesses were distributed about equally between genders. However, nearly twice as many women were experiencing psycho social stressors. The recommended treatment intervention is short-term crisis counseling followed by education which encour ages the offender to admit that shoplifting is a crime and to consider the realistic consequences of additional shoplifting.
Article
Full-text available
This paper presents the findings of the first pan-European survey of companies within the fast-moving consumer goods sector. It provides a discussion on the definition of shrinkage, and presents data on the extent, nature and causes of stock loss throughout the supply chain—from point of manufacture through to point of sale—as well as on some of the approaches adopted to tackle the problem. It highlights the role of security and audit departments in minimising losses, and the need for companies to adopt a more strategic approach, not only by involving other parts of their own organisations, but also by co-operating with other companies within the supply chain. It concludes that unless companies begin to realise the extent of the problem and the vulnerability of all points of the supply chain to a wide range of threats, then losses will continue to represent a significant proportion of their annual turnover
Article
Consumer shoplifting poses a problem of social and economic significance. This study investigates such aberrant behavior from an attitudinal- and psychological-profile approach. Differences between shoplifters and nonshoplifters are examined, and managerial implications for retail store deterrence/ surveillance activities are presented.
Article
Shoplifting, one of the most prevalent crimes in our society, and on the increase in recent years, has received relatively little attention in research literature. This paper discusses the various classifications of shoplifters, particularly delineating several types of shoplifters. The personality characteristics and motivation of these types were studied in an attempt to develop our knowledge of shoplifting in general. The relationship between shoplifting and substance abuse, eating disorders, social class, race and ethnicity, gender, and age were also researched. The effects of apprehension, models of intervention and recidivism rates were also investigated. The authors’ study of 457 youths arrested for shoplifting and referred to diversion services was described. Special attention was given to the Youth Emotional Shoplifting Program (YES), of Shoplifters Anonymous (SA) in which 364 of the 457 subjects participated. Other intervention programs, as well as combinations of intervention programs, were also examined.
Article
Shoplifting is a serious crime affecting most (if not all) retail businesses and responsible for increases in merchandise prices and customer services. Numerous methods exist to reduce shoplifting among consumers. The two most common types of shoplifting treatments either directly treat the shoplifter or attempt to prevent shoplifting through response prevention strategies in the retail environment. A critical review of the most common methods to reduce shoplifting reveal that case study research lacks appropriate experimental control to be convincing; and that the most promising strategies are those methods that attempt to prevent shoplifting in the retail environment. However, the more global response prevention methods could benefit if an account of the total volume of shoppers were controlled for thus providing a ratio of shoppers to opportunities to shoplift.
Article
This article examines a program designed to provide a family court with a means of lessening the probability that youths on probation for shoplifting will return to criminal behavior.A single staff member within the family court screened possible participants, all of whom were defined as first-time shoplifting offenders and had been assigned to formal or informal probation. Each individual was invited to participate in a four-hour clinic, during which time the realities and possible consequences of shoplifting were explained. If they were able to successfully complete six months of supervised probation, then only the administrative record remained; the conviction itself was expunged. Over a period of nine months, a total of 154 juveniles were invited; however, only 100 actually took part in all facets of the program. A total of 30 clinic attendees and 14 nonparticipants were excluded from the present analysis, owing to missing data, or the fact that at the time of follow-up, they were legally classified as adults. The prior and subsequent court contacts of 110 subjects are reviewed. While less than 3% of either group had subsequent shoplifting arrests, nearly 26% of the program group and 35% of the nonparticipants were rearrested. Factors associated with long-term success and failure are examined. Possible reasons for these observations are discussed, with specific grounding in the shoplifting literature and the concepts of juvenile diversion and “net-widening.”
Article
Full-text available
The aim of the present study was to compare a number of different psychological predictors of shoplifting using measures of depression, self-esteem, stress, coping, personality and attitudes toward shoplifting. 132 undergraduate students (84 males, 48 females) completed measures of depressive symptoms, self-esteem, personality, coping style, stress, attitudes toward shopping and shoplifting, and shoplifting behaviour. A stepwise discriminant function analysis was used to distinguish which variables best discriminated between those who shoplifted and those who did not. Within this analysis the shoplifter is best typified by the individual who perceives a low risk of getting caught shoplifting, sees psychological factors as important to shoplifting, suffers from personal and physical stress and does not use both the Focus on and Venting of Emotions, and the Behavioural Disengagement, coping styles.
Article
Shoplifting has reached epidemic proportions. Traditional approaches to keeping this behavior under control have met with limited success. This article explores the use of user image to decrease shoplifting. The analysis supports the approach. If the image of the “typical shoplifter” is made more negative, individuals anxious to disassociate themselves with the negative image will be less likely to shoplift.
Purpose – The purpose of the paper is to draw attention to an area of research that has considerable potential for academic researchers in the disciplines of retailing and distribution studies. Design/methodology/approach – The methodology adopted was an overview of existing literature with a view to identifying possible trends in research in the area of loss prevention. Findings – The paper identifies an extensive body of existing literature and provides an indication of areas for future research in loss prevention. Practical implications – The implications of these key issues are significant to the measurement of shrinkage in terms of the scope across the business from which shrinkage needs to be considered. This finding highlights the need to consider shrinkage as a systemic issue that extends across a business from design, through planning to operational execution. It also identifies the impact of shrinkage on increasing cost and depressing sales and considers the responsibility of management teams in addressing these matters. Originality/value – This paper is an original discussion on the topic and thus of value to the academic community. It is also of value to the practitioner community as it highlights the importance of developing relationships with the academic community.
Article
The purpose of this study was to develop an empirically derived multivariate taxonomy of shoplifters by cluster analysis. Previously collected data from 75 suspected shoplifters, including demographic characteristics, past history, psychosocial stressors, and purpose in life measures as defined by the Purpose in Life (PIL), and Seeking of Noetic Goals (SONG) tests were analyzed. The results of cluster analysis indicate that shoplifters are a heterogeneous population consisting of a least four subgroups. Implications for treatment are discussed.
Chapter
Full-text available
The basis of this research is the experiences of a select few ex-offenders, all of whom admitted to having been shoplifters, although not necessarily with convictions for this type of offence. There were three different approaches. First, there were role-playing sessions in which fifteen offenders were asked to act out a theft. This led on to a series of in-depth interviews with seven of the participants, and then two of these went on walkabouts in a number of electrical retail stores to identify security weaknesses.
Article
Full-text available
Shoplifting is one of the most common and costly crimes, yet little data exist to determine reliably characteristics of the typical shoplifter or the modus operandi of the crime. It is a crime that has most often been studied using official, secondary data provided by either retail security personnel or law enforcement officers. Reliability issues plague these official data. Continuing the “dark figure of crime” tradition, this study examines shoplifting by covert observation with a camera system installed in a typical suburban retail drug store. A standardized data template was used to record the demographic and behavioral characteristics of shoppers. Significant numbers of shoppers (8.5%) were observed shoplifting. Logistic regression analysis reveals that, while members of some demographic groups shoplifted more often than others, behavioral indicators carried far more predictive power. The methodology and findings are considered within the larger context of the law enforcement and “profiling” literatures.
Article
The purpose of this study was twofold. First, the study evaluated the effectiveness of personal meaning as measured by the Purpose in Life (PIL) and Seeking of Noetic Goals (SONG) tests in discriminating shoplifters from nonshoplifters. The second objective was to provide a more systemic examination of the relationship between several demographic, psychosocial stressor and attitudinal variables, and the act of shoplifting. Data were collected from 75 persons immediately after they had been apprehended for shoplifting and compared with data obtained from 75 undergraduate student nonshoplifters. Results of discriminant analysis indicate that there are meaningful differences between shoplifters and nonshoplifters, and provide support for the continued use of the SONG as an important supplemental to the PIL with clinical populations. Implications are discussed.
Article
A consideration of economic situation and actual goods stolen was used to divide 101 shoplifters into three categories; shoplifting for profit or gain and two levels of "non-sensical" shoplifting, i.e. shoplifting not apparently motivated by need or desire. The groups were compared on demographic and relevant background information, psychosocial stressors preceding the offense, and general psychological profile. The non-sensical shoplifter is more likely to be older, married, foreignborn, adopted, to have experienced an unusual childhood stress, and to be depressed and socially isolated in comparison to other shoplifters. Shoplifters in general are more likely to be femrale than male. An explanation in terms of an accumulation of stessors over time in certain individuals was offered as one interpretation of the findings.
Article
Nearly eleven million Americans were caught shoplifting in 1980. Approximately six percent of gross retail sales in the U.S. and Canada goes to cover the cost of shoplifting prevention efforts and losses. Recent research suggests that psychosocial stressors contribute heavily to shoplifting behavior, and that brief individual and group psychological treatments have thepotential to reduce recidivism and promote rehabilitation. This article describes in detail a six session psychoeducational group treatment which is built around the notion ofprecipitating stressors. The structuredprogram "walks" each participant in turn through the specifics of the incident which resulted in their arrest-including stressors, rationalizations, and consequences. The treatment program, implemented by masters' level counselors, consciously utilizes commonly recognized group forces. Referring judges have been well satisfied with the program, which has been used routinely with convictedfirst offense shoplifters since 1982. Probation officers estimate that to date, only 5% of shoplifters who have participated in the program since 1982 have been re-arrested in the county for shoplifting.
Article
This article characterizes the shoplifting behavior of 132 adult middle class shoplifters as "rational, " "nonrational, " or "mixed, " depending on the extent to which the subject's theft was calculated to achieve a goal. The findings suggest that though there are certain demographicdifferences between the types, there appears to be little difference between groups in terms of the types of stores targeted, the type of items stolen, the value of the items stolen, or thefrequency ofshoplifting incidents. It is suggested, therefore, that contrary to earlier research, nonrational types pose a significant threat to store security since they do not consider the possibilities of apprehension and once apprehended the experience does not change their attitudes toward shoplifting. It is speculated that preventive approaches to loss prevention utilizing highly visible uniformed officers might help to deter nonrational offenders.
Article
This article describes a classroom-based educational and treatment program for adults under probation supervision for shoplifting offenses in Nueces County, Texas. Case file review and face-to-face interviews indicate that most of the shoplifters are poor, uneducated single mothers with negative attitudes who live in destructive environments. They reported stealing for their own consumption or for people they care about. A sixteen-hour program was designed based on two assumptions: (1) these people may be motivated to steal to improve the quality of their lives and of those they care for; and (2) people do have some control over their lives and would be motivated to improve the quality of their lives in constructive ways if they felt they could. The program is designed to initiate productive self-improvement and to reduce recidivism among participants. This paper describes shoplifters on probation in the area and introduces the antishop-lifting program.
Article
STOP is a classroom-based program for adult shoplifters on probation intended to provide education and esteem-building treatment to facilitate productive self-improvement. This article reports findings from an evaluation of the program. Using a treatment group of shoplifters ordered to the program over a twelve-month period and a comparison group of shoplifters that did not attend the program and various types of data, three important findings are presented. First, STOP is being used for the correct target population. Second, the treatment group fared quite well in the program, completing at high rates with favorable test scores and positive retention of course material. Several factors are correlated with completion including prior drug use and juvenile incarceration. Third, exposure to STOP plays a role in the successful completion of probation. Subjects ordered to STOP completed probation at higher rates than comparison group subjects.
Article
Full-text available
The relationship between the use of benzodiazepines and shoplifting behaviour is reviewed. Three case vignettes are presented in which shoplifting is temporally associated with benzodiazepine treatment. The mechanisms for this association are explored and the potentialfor reduction/releasefrom criminal responsibility is noted.
Article
Theft represents an important issue for society. A substantial part of theft is not driven by economical motivations, but is considered in the literature as meaningless and driven by irrational motivations. This thievery is associated with an important psychiatric morbidity, with mood disorder as the most common pathology. Kleptomania is a specific form of repeated shoplifting which is classified as an impulse control disorder. It has an important co-morbidity with mood disorders, anxiety disorders, other impulse control disorders and eating disorders. Despite the absence of controlled interventional trials, indications do occur in the literature that cognitive-behavioural therapy and pharmacological therapy with antidepressants or naltrexone may be successful.
Article
When self-service checkout (SCO) first launched in the United States in 1992 there was considerable scepticism and, perhaps not surprisingly, concern that huge losses would follow. Despite conflicting evidence on their impact on shrinkage, and customer theft in particular, consumer-oriented payment systems are an increasingly common feature of the retail environment. This paper reviews how the move to SCO has affected retail theft. Drawing on recent market research surveys suggesting that up to a third of customers regularly steal when using SCO in supermarkets, the paper outlines the aetiology of a new breed of shoplifter, ‘the SWIPERS’, and presents a typology of these offenders.
Article
Prior findings by Beck and McIntyre about the relationship between shoplifting and pathology or maladjustment among college students were tested with 78 full-time college students, convicted of first-offense shoplifting. Contrary to the earlier study, there was little evidence that pathology or maladjustment were significant contributing factors. There were no meaningful personality differences on the California Psychological Inventory between regular and occasional shoplifters or a sample of 30 undergraduates who denied ever shoplifting. The personality test data, offense records, and the diverse motives found among regular shoplifters indicated these college students were not delinquent, criminal personalities, psychopaths, and had no psychopathic tendencies. They steal for a variety of reasons, including the acquisition of personally attractive goods while saving money for other purposes.