Shoplifting: 5 Facts About Teens and Tweens Who Steal

In the past 6 months we have gotten about 20 to 30 emails from young people as well as parents reporting that shoplifting is a major concern.  Here are some thoughts from my research as well as our teen trendsetter network.

Ideas on Shoplifting

1) Shoplifting Is Old
Shoplifting has always been a problem amongst young people.  I think that perhaps we are now seeing more of a problem, but parents and adults who think that this has not been an issue for every generation are mistaken.  Shoplifting is an old problem, it is just dressed a little differently…
2) What is Shoplifted is Different…
I asked my teen trendsetter group about this trend, what is mainly different about shoplifting today is that in my mom’s age it was often gum and snacks.  Today, it is iTunes gift cards and red bull.
  • Top 5 Things Teens Shoplift:
iTunes Cards
Red Bull
3) Alcohol and Cigarettes
These did not make the top 5, but were towards the top.  Many teens, when asked, do not consider stealing alcohol shoplifting.  In fact,
“Stealing Alcohol is like a rite of passage.  You do it do grow up.  Plus we practically deserve to get alcohol for free because we CAN’T buy it.  I would buy it if they would let me.  I steal it because they will not let me buy it.”
4) Digital Shoplifting i.e Teen Piracy
Another change is piracy or digital shoplifting.  A few adults I spoke to said they used to steal cassettes, CDs or even records.  Teens today said they would too, and they do.  It is just online.
5) Still Immune
Shoplifting, unfortunately, is still ‘no big deal.’  Many teens also feel completely immune to getting caught and do not think it would be so bad if they did.  This is my biggest concern and I think the number one thing adults can do about shoplifting.  I think talking about what the potential consequences and that more and more stores have camera’s now.
Overall, shoplifting is something that ALL parents, of all age kids, all demographics and all areas should talk about.  In fact, the kids who steal most, are the ones who need it the least.  Talk to your kids, make sure they understand the consequences and you have insight into where they stand.

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