How Do They Do It?

Shoplifters may work alone or in groups. while it’s impossible to give an infallible rule of thumb, experience has shown that juveniles and professionals tend to work in groups, while the impulse shoplifter is a loner.

Working in a group, the shoplifter may use confederates to be concealed. One member of the gang may also start an argument with store personnel or among themselves, or even feign a fainting spell to draw attention, giving a cohort the opportunity to steal merchandise from another part of the store.

Shoplifters don’t like crowds. They keep a sharp eye out for other customers or store personnel; quick, nervous glances may be a giveaway. They also tend to “shop” during hours when store staff is lighter than usual – during lunch hours, early morning, or just before closing.

Shoplifters also have their own arsenal of professional tools. Articles as innocent as bulky packages, pocket-books, baby carriages, knitting bags, shopping bags, umbrellas, newspapers and magazines can be used to carry stolen goods. Even an oversized arm sling can help the shoplifter conceal merchandise.

Specially-constructed devices such as coats or capes with hidden pockets and zippered hiding places are useful to the more experienced shoplifter. Some thieves use booster boxes (large boxes with a hinged end, top, or bottom). Booster boxes may be gift-wrapped to frustrate detection.

Unsupervised dressing rooms offer excellent opportunities for theft. Shoplifters may simply pile on layers of pilfered clothing, or they may exchange new items for the clothes they were wearing and return the originals to the rack.

Price tickets can be too often easily switched, particularly in grocery stores or drugstores where prices are written on gummed labels and often carelessly-stuck to the item.