Thursday, June 19, 2008
USA Today reports on the increase in shoplifting over the last year or so that appears to be driven, to some extent at least, by a weakening job market and sharply higher consumer prices (that is, sharply higher consumer prices that appear everywhere but in the government's "official" inflation statistics).
Apparently, it has become more difficult for some families to make ends meet and they are doing what most humans do - adapting.
Retail and law enforcement experts agree that they've seen an increase in store theft during the current slowdown — and not only from customers.Shouldn't the gubment be readying another one of those cheese give-aways by now?
"It's clear that both employee theft and shoplifting are up," says Richard Hollinger, professor of criminology at the University of Florida who compiles the annual National Retail Security Survey. "The most recent rise is being driven by the economy. A lot of people are on the financial edge."
"Unfortunately, it's to be expected that when the economy moves into a slowdown, and families have difficulties meeting week-to-week and month-to-month bills, shoplifting is going to go up," says Bruce Hutchinson, professor of economics at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
Most police departments don't collect data on the profiles of shoplifting suspects. But some who deal directly with the problem say they've detected a shift.
"In general, the shoplifter of the past was mostly trying to fuel a drug habit," says Sgt. Alfred Pratt of the Shrewsbury, Mass., Police Department. "But we've seen a change as the economy has declined. More common, everyday items are being stolen, such as groceries."