Shoplifting is a very common theft crime both here in North Carolina and throughout the United States. It’s so prevalent that most shoplifters actually go undetected.
Though it’s often associated with rebellious teens stealing for the thrill of it, there isn’t a particular profile for a typical shoplifter. In fact, anyone can be a shoplifter.
Check out these statistics studied and compiled by the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention:
- One in 11 people are shoplifters, which equates to about 27 million Americans.
- In the last 5 years, more than 10 million people have been caught shoplifting.
- 75 percent of shoplifters are adults and 55 percent of these adults say they got started in their teens.
- 25 percent of shoplifters are kids.
- Shoplifters are caught, on average, once every 48 times and are turned over to police half of the times they’re caught.
- Over half of adults and one-third of juveniles claim that’s it’s hard to stop shoplifting even if they’ve been caught.
With so many shoplifters, you can’t help but ask, Why do people shoplift?
Let’s explore the top reasons why people shoplift and how those reasons might actually be beneficial if you’re caught and charged with a crime.
Top 5 Reasons People Shoplift
People shoplift for a variety of reasons. Here are 5 of the top reasons:
Shoplifting is a low risk crime. As mentioned above, shoplifters are usually only caught once every 48 times, which amounts to only 2 percent of the time. Since the likelihood of being caught is so low, many people see shoplifting as a crime that you can easily get away with. Even if someone is caught shoplifting, the penalties aren’t seen as too severe, so that’s not necessarily a deterrence.
Drug addiction. Frequently, people who are addicted to drugs turn to shoplifting as an income source in order to fund their drug habit. Many drug addicts also claim that shoplifting is just as addictive as drugs.
Shoplifting is easy. Many stores have products and items out in the open and on display, which makes stealing these items fairly easy. If items were behind counters or in locked cabinets, stealing would be more difficult. With more stores having self-checkout lanes as well, shoplifting is an easy crime to commit.
Shoplifting gives people a rush. A number of shoplifters describe a “high” feeling they get when they shoplift. Getting away with something like stealing produces a thrill, which, for many shoplifters, is more rewarding than the actual stolen goods.
Shoplifting is an actual mental health disorder. Some people can’t stop themselves from stealing. These people suffer from a condition known as kleptomania, which, according to the Mayo Clinic, “is the recurrent failure to resist urges to steal items that you generally don’t really need and that usually have little value.”
Can a Claim of Kleptomania Help Me Beat My North Carolina Shoplifting Charge?
If someone has been diagnosed with a mental health condition, yes, that diagnosis might be able to be used to help in defending a criminal charge. However, this depends on the condition and the circumstances of the alleged crime.
Kleptomania is not a common mental health disorder. Only 0.6 percent of the population has it, and fewer than 5 percent of shoplifters are afflicted with this impulse control disorder.
In order to be diagnosed as a kleptomaniac, you have meet the criteria in the DSM-5, which includes:
- Having a recurrent inability to resist urges to steal objects that aren’t needed for personal use or monetary value;
- Feeling increasing tension right before stealing;
- Having feelings of pleasure, relief, or gratification during the theft; and
- Not being related to another conduct disorder, a manic episode of bipolar disorder, or antisocial personality disorder.
Bottom line? Regardless of whether you have been diagnosed as a kleptomaniac or you suffer from kleptomania but have yet to seek help, you might be able to use your condition to help with a shoplifting charge.
It is important to bear in mind, though, that the U.S. Department of Justice excludes kleptomania – along with other impulse control disorders like pyromania – as a possible legal defense. So how can using it in your case help?
While not a defense in and of itself, it speaks to intent and your mental state at the time the actions were committed. If you are compelled to steal due to a psychological condition, your charges could potentially be reduced, dropped, or dismissed, especially if you have a skilled North Carolina shoplifting attorney on your side.
While your lawyer can’t guarantee any outcome, a knowledgeable attorney might be able to argue that, rather than facing serious shoplifting penalties, it would be more beneficial to get you the proper professional help and care you need. If you’ve been charged with a shoplifting crime, contact an experienced attorney today to get started on defending your charges.
About the Author:
Jan Elliott Pritchett is Managing Partner at the Law Firm of Schlosser & Pritchett and one of North Carolina’s top rated criminal defense attorneys. With a practice dedicated 100% to litigation, Mr. Pritchett protects the legal rights of clients who have been charged in federal and state criminal matters, as well as DUI/DWi, motor vehicle accidents, personal injury, and traffic violations. In practice since 1995, Mr. Pritchett has earned a reputation as a highly talented and fearless lawyer, being listed among the state’s “Legal Elite” and recognized as one of the Top 100 DWI Lawyers in North Carolina by the National Advocacy of DUI Defense. He currently serves as the Co-Chairman of the North Carolina State Board of Legal Specialization, Criminal Law Specialty, and Vice-Chairman of the North Carolina Bar Association, Criminal Justice Section.