Shoplifting’s Hit List: 6 Most Stolen Retail Items

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Shoplifting is a major issue for retailers. Theft accounts for tens of billions of lost dollars each year. According to Forbes, it’s estimated that retailers lose nearly $100 billion annually from shoplifters.

It doesn’t just affect the bottom line of businesses; it also increases prices for paying customers because it incurs additional costs. These costs include security measures, loss prevention staff, and legal expenses if the thief is caught.

While retailers have implemented security measures to prevent shoplifting, certain items continue to be targeted by thieves.

1. Cosmetics

Cosmetics are among the items most commonly stolen from retail stores. They’re considered high-theft items due to their small size, luxury status, and high value. Most cosmetics are packaged in small containers, making it easier to conceal and take out of the store. 

2. Alcohol

There are a variety of reasons that explain why alcohol is one of the most commonly shoplifted products. 

  • Financial difficulties: Some people steal alcohol due to financial difficulties and not being able to afford to buy it.
  • Addiction: Alcoholism is a disease and some people may steal alcohol to feed their addiction.
  • Opportunity: Some people may steal alcohol simply because they see an opportunity to do so, and the perceived risk of getting caught is low.
  • Peer pressure: Some people may steal alcohol as a result of peer pressure, especially among teens and young adults.
  • Mental health: People with certain mental health conditions may steal alcohol as a result of impulsivity or a lack of impulse control

3. Baby Formula

The reasons behind why baby formula is frequently stolen from retailers include cost, necessity, and the high level of demand. Another factor is that some people see an opportunity to make money through reselling stolen baby formula. 

Hot Tip: Need help affording groceries for your child? There are government assistance programs available – check out our article on the advance child tax credit to learn more!

4. Over-the-Counter Medicines

People frequently shoplift over-the-counter (OTC) medications. This has raised a lot of concerns from the community. Research shows many of these thieves are suspected to be drug addicts, using the medications to feed their addiction and target painkillers. People may steal OTC medication to avoid being seen buying, due to social stigma or embarrassing conditions that require some medication.

5. Perfume & Fragrance

Unsecured perfumes and fragrances are a popular target for shoplifters, particularly for those who engage in the activity as a career. The small size of perfumes and fragrances makes them easy to conceal and take out of the store. The high value of fragrance makes it an attractive target for thieves that plan to resell them.

6. Laptops and Tablets

No matter how carefully the retail stores watch laptops and tablets on display, these items are stolen all the time. Why? Because laptops and tablets are relatively small, valuable, can be removed quickly, are easily hidden, and there’s a market for reselling them. A thief can sell a stolen laptop, tablet, or other devices online and easily receive up to half its value in cash.