Holiday Retail Theft

The holiday season may bring to mind visions of sugarplums and Christmas carols for lots of people, but for retailers, the focus has to be on theft. It is the busiest shopping season of the year, and merchants know that shoplifters are out in full force. Most retail theft—roughly 80%– occurs during the holidays. In fact, shoplifters in 2023. That estimate is up 6 percent from 2022. 

Penalties for Shoplifting

When shoplifters are caught and prosecuted, they could face some pretty stiff criminal penalties in California, including fines ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 and imprisonment from a couple of months to as long as 3 years, depending on the value of merchandise stolen and other factors.

Why People Shoplift

There are multiple reasons that people risk being arrested for shoplifting, some of which may be a bit surprising:

  • No pain, no gain:  Some shoplifters believe the likelihood of getting caught is so remote– compared with the thrill of having the things they want– that they go for it. When it is all said and done, they can enjoy—or sell—stolen merchandise.
  • They think it is a victimless crime: Many shoplifters believe they really are not really hurting anyone since rich insurance companies will make rich retailers whole after a theft anyway. No harm, no foul.
  • It is a headrush: For some, stealing is all about the buzz they get when they outthink store security systems and personnel.  Even when they do not want or need the things they take, they definitely enjoy the thrill of stealing them.
  • They just want what they cannot have: The pressure to provide gifts for family and friends can be insurmountable, and when a person does not have the money to make desired purchases, the temptation to steal those things can be overpowering. Beyond that, some people truly struggle to afford the basic necessities, and shoplifting is a matter of survival.
  • Mental health issues: Psychological issues like OCD, kleptomania, and even depression can lead some people to shoplift. Other issues like anxiety and bipolar disorder can impact a person’s ability to reason effectively, increasing the chances of shoplifting.
  • Peer Pressure: Some, especially young people, may shoplift on a dare or in some way feel pressure from friends to see what they can get away with.
  • Some are repaying a debt: In some circumstances, law enforcement reports that immigrants get involved in shoplifting so they can pay off their debt to those who assisted in their entrance into the country.

Organized Retail Crime 

Smash-and-grab groups across the country go for designer merchandise that can be resold for a tidy profit. It is one of the latest trends to hit retail stores, frightening employees and costing retailers a bundle.  

The Defense You Deserve 

The experienced Sam Diego criminal defense attorneys at The Law Office of David M. Boertje have your best interest at heart and will fight for the best possible outcomes for you. To discuss this, schedule a confidential consultation today.

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