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According to research studies, the reasons why someone steals are vast and can be complex. Upbringing, peer pressure, economic, health and a number of other factors also impact. When someone steals, it is for them to understand their motivations and the effect their actions had on others. For many it is not a premeditated crime — they simply see the opportunity to take something and do.

Life challenges can affect an individual in such a way that they “act out of character,” or they seek to justify their behaviour through the “messages,” that they tell themselves. Denial is a defence mechanism used when faced with a fact that is too painful to accept, so it is rejected as not true often despite overwhelming evidence. Excuses, such as forgetfulness and intention to pay are used. Viewpoints that shoplifting is victimless, harms no one except a faceless organisation that can stand the losses or claim it on insurance are believed.

What is often overlooked by the person, is that stealing affects more than just them. It overburdens the Police and the Courts and is an enormous public cost. Shoplifting costs the government £915 million in lost revenue every year. It adds huge costs to a retail business, decreases profitability and costs good honest consumers an estimated £325.00 more for goods and services each year.

Theft from shops is the largest crime in the UK – each individual shoplifter is part of that. Retailers spent £613 million in 2015 dealing with shoplifters, not including the millions spent on crime prevention measures and the £6 billion of goods stolen. Source BRC Retail Crime Survey 2015.

Violent incidents are on the increase. Although many shoplifters are not abusive, violent or carrying a weapon, security and store personnel don’t know that when they make a stop, so they have to be on a high state of alert as there is always a risk of harm.

Businesses use civil recovery as a way to deter further incidents of theft, demonstrate that the costs of crime to business are vast and that people need to accept a responsibility for their own actions. Security is only needed because people commit crimes.


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