Prevent Shoplifting by Juveniles

Prevent Shoplifting by Juveniles

Juveniles aren’t the only customers that shoplift by any means. But the National Crime Prevention Council estimates that 25% of all shoplifters are between the ages of 13 and 17.  This age group has always presented a problem to retailers, but lately gang activity and the use of juvenile shoplifters by adults has only added to the problem’s magnitude.

Various reasons are given for why kids steal from stores: Peer pressure, rebellion, greed, immaturity, and lack of supervision are often cited.  All of these reasons are valid.  Juveniles also tend to think that they won’t get caught and if they do, nothing will happen to them.

Teen shoplifting is such a problem that special programs have been set up by some law enforcement agencies to specifically deal with it.

I worked with a local county probation office as a facilitator for a program designed to prevent shoplifting among juveniles by teaching teenagers (and their parents) just how costly shoplifting could be.  Juveniles and some of their parents downplay the crime of shoplifting as a minor inconvenience and not really so bad.

Admittedly it is not as bad as some crimes, but some law enforcement officers consider it a “gateway crime”, often leading to greater crimes.

Some things I noticed in conversation with juvenile shoplifters and their parents.

§ Juvenile shoplifters were rarely alone.  They were usually with in pairs or with a group.
§ The juveniles were often not where their parents thought they were, and were not with the people they were supposed to be with.
§ Most of them knew someone who had shoplifted and gotten away with it.
§ Most didn’t need the item they stole.  They tended to steal items that were trendy, or insignificant.
§ Juvenile shoplifters were seldom “good” at the act of shoplifting.  They tended to use the more obvious ways and were only able to get away with it because store staff ignored them.
§ The parents were amazed to find that their son or daughter shoplifted, despite unexplained new clothes and other items that appeared in their child’s closet.

The storeowner is faced with several options when he is being taken advantage of by juvenile shoplifters.

He can keep them out of his store, which is bad for business.  He can instruct staff to stick to them like a flea while they do their shop(lift)ing, which is not always possible when they split up or staff is busy elsewhere.  Install retail theft devices that alert when unpaid for merchandise leaves the store, such as those offered by Checkpoint Security Systems.

If one of these is actually caught in the act, there are two choices (besides letting them go):  Call the authorities or call their parents.  You never let a juvenile go on his own, or you could open yourself up for liability.

It is recommended that the authorities get involved, as there is usually some type of diversion program available for first timers, and if they are not first timers, more appropriate action can be taken.

For ideas on how to prevent shoplifting at your retail business call 866-914-2567 or click Stop Shoplifting.  Visit our online store at Online Loss Prevention Store.