To Arrest Or Not To Arrest – Juvenile Shoplifters & Our Efforts To Prevent Shoplifting

In our efforts to prevent shoplifting we must make several business decisions. One of these is should we prosecute juvenile shoplifters? Some retailers say yes some no. I am of the opinion that all shoplifters regardless of age should be criminally charged.

Let’s say that this is the kid’s first offence, this may be the first time caught. A good scare by the Police and Courts will have a lasting effect. When I was in High School I was a Police Explorer Scout. One of my duties was to sit outside the holding cell of juvenile shoplifters while decisions were made. I remember that in one case a young girl maybe 13 years old had been caught at a major retail store. The store had a policy that criminal charges were left up to the discretion of the Police.

When the parents arrived they talked to the Police Lt and were deeply concerned about the girl. They in no way tried to get her out of it. They were more concerned about the long-term lesson she should take away from the incident. The Lt seeing that the parents were cooperative and caring worked with them.

After a plan was hatched I opened the cell door. The girl was relieved that her parents were there but Dad said “I am sorry that you are here but you did this to yourself. Your Mother and I do not know if we can help you or not. But we will try.” At that point he closed the cell door and they walked back to the Lt. They said that they would see him in an hour or so and left to get a cup of coffee. The girl cried for most of that time. I have a strong suspicion that she has never shoplifted again. Talk about a prevent shoplifting program.

What studies show is very simple. There is a much lower rate FOR JUVENILES being rearrested vs. Juveniles that were not. I believe that if we impact this early on we are not only doing our businesses a favor but our society as a whole. If a child is not taught right from wrong what will they aspire to? Prevent shoplifting with juveniles and eventually the overall shoplifting rates will go down.

For more information contact us at prevent shoplifting loss or call 1.866.914.2567