A recent NASP survey asked hundreds of judges, prosecutors, probation and law enforcement officers if they thought shoplifting was a Gateway Crime – "a crime with little or no consequence which acts as an initiator to other criminal behavior".
79% of those justice professionals said "YES", adding that in their experience shoplifting is a gateway to greater acts of shoplifting as well as more serious crime; explaining it is not the theft itself, but the act of "getting away with it" which precipitates future crime. If, in the opinion of justice professionals across the nation, shoplifting is often the starting point to future criminal behavior – employee theft, burglary, fraud, embezzlement – the importance of proactively addressing it becomes much clearer.
Unfortunately, there is a tendency by adults, teens and youth across the country to regard shoplifting as "no big deal" or a "victimless" crime. We often hear from the parents of juveniles caught shoplifting, "what's the big deal, it was just a small item", or "kids will be kids". But when given the facts about shoplifting those same people often have a change of heart. Consider the following.
Shoplifting is one of the most prevalent crimes in the U.S., averaging about 550,000 incidents per day, resulting in losses of more than $35 million each day to retailers and a drain on our economy.
But the losses don't stop there. While it is very important to recognize that the losses affect retail profits and our economy, they affect you, your family and the local community where you live and work. Consider:
Shoplifting steals from you, your family and the community. Since the crime directly affects so many people, it is essential that parents and other adults collectively and consistently respond to shoplifting with a message that promotes honesty, character and integrity amongst our youth. This will help ensure a better future for all.