Sticky fingers

While most of us are emptying our wallets and filling up our credit cards to buy gifts this holiday season, others are getting the goods for free—with a five-finger discount, that is. The nonprofit support group CASA, Cleptomaniacs And Shoplifters Anonymous, reports that 75 percent of shoplifters are addictive-compulsive, and they steal things for many reasons, including: to express feelings of anger, revenge, or entitlement; to fill a sense of emptiness due to grief or loss; to try to make life seem fair, and as a thrill or high to escape problems, numb feelings, or ease depression. Whatever the reason, they cost retailers, and, by extension, consumers big bucks. Following are some stats from the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention.

• More than $10 billion worth of goods are stolen from retailers each year—more than $25 million per day.

• Approximately 1 in 11 people shoplifts, 23 million in the United States.

• Men and women shoplift in equal numbers.

• Approximately 3 percent of shoplifters are “professionals” who steal solely for resale or profit as a business. They are responsible for 10 percent of the total dollar losses.

• Approximately 70 percent of non-professional shoplifters don’t plan their thefts in advance.

• Fifty-nine percent of shoplifters “frequently” buy some merchandise and shoplift other things in the same trip.

• Thirteen percent of “first offenders” say they steal daily or several times a day.

• Shoplifters steal an average of 1.6 times per week.

• More than 10 million people have been caught shoplifting in the last five years.

• Approximately 25 percent of shoplifters are kids, while 75 percent are adults. Fifty-five percent of adult shoplifters say they started shoplifting in their teens.

• Shoplifters say they are caught an average of only once in every 48 times they steal. They are turned over to the police 50 percent of the time.

• Businesses lose 20 percent of every dollar earned to employee theft. Fifty-five percent of perpetrators are managers.