For most people, ‘tis the season for giving; but for others, it’s the season for taking.
While registers are ringing up holiday sales, those with sticky fingers are looking to take whatever they can stuff down their pants, in their purse, or hide in the baby’s stroller.
And, according to a recent news report, that includes fresh meat.
Local Cost Less Food Company Market Manager Bert McClendon said he’s seen — and heard — it all when it comes to sticky fingered patrons of his store.
“Ninety-nine percent say they haven’t done it before but we’ve discovered that 99 percent of them have. Usually, they’re lying,” McClendon said.
He said the store used to go easy on the perpetrators but now they just hand the suspects over to the police and let the courts decide their fate.
The most stolen items in Cost Less market tend to be liquor and health and beauty items, however perpetrators have also tried to liberate a few packs of meat as well.
McClendon has trained his front register personnel to be on the lookout for suspicious activity and, unbeknownst to the people with secretive ulterior motives, they have a look that tips them off.
“You can almost always tell when they walk in if they’re going to be a problem,” McClendon shared. “And we train all our front end people to keep an eye out for suspicious people.”
And if you walk in with a backpack, be prepared to have an extra set of eyes on you while you do your shopping.
“Anyone wearing a backpack is going to get a second look,” McClendon said. “Backpacks are a red flag.”
Theft for most retail and grocery outlets is an ongoing problem but it does seem to get worse during the holidays, McClendon said.
“It’s a problem for sure,” he noted. “It increases a bit during the holidays.”
According to the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention (NASP):
• More than $13 billion worth of goods are stolen from retailers each year, which equals more than $35 million per day.
• There is no profile of a typical shoplifter. Men and women shoplift about equally as often.
• Approximately 25 percent of shoplifters are kids, 75 percent are adults. 55 percent of adult shoplifters say they started shoplifting in their teens.
• Many shoplifters buy and steal merchandise in the same visit. Shoplifters commonly steal from $2 to $200 per incident depending upon the type of store and item(s) chosen.
One woman in Oakdale attempted to steal multiple items by hiding them beneath her purse as she checked out at the register. She said she’d planned to steal the items when she walked into the store, claiming she needed to feed her children; however, out of the stolen items, only one was edible.
• 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.
In support of this fact, Lt. Lester Jenkins with the Oakdale Police Department said, “Part of the problem is that places don’t prosecute for the theft of smaller items.”
So, while people are definitely out there stealing, reports aren’t being made to the police department.
In October, there were no reports made for incidents of shoplifting locally, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t happening.
• Approximately 3 percent of shoplifters are “professionals” who steal solely for resale or profit as a business. These include drug addicts who steal to feed their habit, hardened professionals who steal as a lifestyle and international shoplifting gangs who steal for profit as a business. Professional shoplifters are responsible for 10 percent of the total dollar losses.
Recently, a man attempted to return an item for a refund to the local O’Reilly’s, an auto parts store, that he hadn’t purchased there, which is also considered theft.
• Habitual shoplifters steal an average of 1.6 times per week.
• Drug addicts, who have become addicted to shoplifting, describe shoplifting as equally addicting as drugs.
• 57 percent of adults and 33 percent of juveniles say it is hard for them to stop shoplifting even after getting caught.