Have you ever been hanging out at the mall with a group of friends, and seen one of them casually slip something into their pocket or bag? Many teens would probably answer “yes.”
No matter how people try to play it off like it’s no big deal, shoplifting is a big deal. It is stealing. And stealing, obviously, is against the law. There are no if, and’s, or but’s about it.
There are two types of shoplifters: Professional shoplifters, the ones who take expensive items that they can resell and make money off of, and the casual shoplifters, who don’t usually go into a store with the intention of stealing, but rather see the opportunity to take something and then just do it.
Most teens are casual shoplifters. They don’t plan on stealing things. It “just happens” (or so they say). Studies show that 72% of teens who shoplift didn’t plan on taking anything. Why would they steal, then?
- Peer pressure. Many teens steal when they see their friends or other people around them stealing. They want to fit in with the group, or they want to seem cool. Studies do show that “popular” kids are 2-3 times more likely to shoplift than other kids.
- They want things their classmates have, but they can’t afford it. Again, they want to fit in. They don’t have any money, their parents can’t afford it or won’t buy it for them, so they steal it so they can show it off to their friends.
- The rush. Some people get a rush from things that are dangerous and that they know can get them in a lot of trouble. They want to see how far they can push the limits, see what they can get away with without getting caught. It’s fun and exciting to them.
- Challenge authority. Some teens do it to basically say “screw you, I can do whatever I want” to authority and the government.
- They want attention. Just like a lot of teens who drink, do drugs, or cut, some teens steal when they want attention from their parents or peers.
- They’re poor. While a lot of people who shoplift actually have plenty of money to pay for what they’re stealing, some offenders really are just poor and can’t afford nice things for themselves.
Whatever their reason is, shoplifting is never okay. It is against the law and, if caught, you will get in lots of trouble. Many people don’t realize how big of a deal shoplifting is.
Here’s what can happen to shoplifters. They might…
- Be arrested and handcuffed in the store in front of everyone
- Face charges for theft
- Be banned from stores and malls
- Get a criminal record, making it extremely difficult for them to get a job or get into college someday
- Feel guilty
- Lose friends who don’t think it’s cool that they steal
- Lose their self-respect, and even lose respect for others
- Spend some time in a jail cell
- If they don’t get caught right away, it could turn into a bigger problem like them stealing from family and friends
Right now, shoplifting has become a bigger problem than it’s ever been. More teens are unemployed, and families have tighter budgets, which researchers believe is a contributing factor to the rise in shoplifting. For this reason, companies and stores aren’t going easy on teens when it comes to prosecuting offenders. Many stores who used to only prosecute shoplifters age 18 and older have lowered the age to 16, or some even younger. If you’re 15 and you steal a $10 belt, they don’t care; you will be in trouble with the police.
I mean, think about it: Even major companies are literally losing thousands of dollars just because of shoplifters. If more people were successful in shoplifting, people who work for those companies would probably lose their jobs. One way that companies are able to get by losing that much money is raising the prices for their items… Yep, that’s right. If you shoplift, shoppers will pay for what you stole by paying more for their items. That’s not cool, is it?
If you have a friend who you know shoplifts, don’t be afraid to confront them about it. It can be awkward, but really, it can save them a trip to jail and a criminal record in the long run. Tell them that you don’t think stealing is right, and you don’t feel comfortable being around them when they do it. Make sure they know that, yes, shoplifting IS a big deal and they CAN get arrested for it if they get caught. You should probably stop shopping with them, too… Because if you’re around while they get caught, you will get questioned and may even get in trouble for not stopping it.
Most things that people steal aren’t things that are necessary to survive… Seriously, you can live without that expensive shirt. Is it really worth it?