In light of the continued COVID-19 pandemic, fears of a rising shoplifting surge have started to grow. Reports across different cities are citing an increase in the amount of shoplifting cases, which can be attributed to the growing economic and personal hardships caused by the pandemic. However, it’s important to look at the facts to determine if those fears are warranted.
To start, a recent report from the National Retail Federation found that shoplifting cases overall have actually decreased in comparison to the same period last year. The report states that overall incidences of shoplifting have decreased. This is partially due to the fact that many stores are utilizing technology to proactively catch shoplifters. That technology is helping to deter potential thieves as well.
However, while the overall trend of shoplifting is decreasing this year, there have been localized increases in some areas. According to an analysis of police reports across the United States, there have been increases in shoplifting reports in some communities with higher poverty rates and unemployment. Those areas have seen their shoplifting reports nearly double or even triple from the same period last year.
That said, one possible explanation for the increases could be how shoplifting is being measured. Reports from the police department in some cities have shed light on how the spate of shoplifting incidents is reported. It appeared that some of the shoplifting reports had been lumped together with a much bigger category which includes other non-violent minor theft and theft related to poverty and homelessness.
So, while the fear of a shoplifting surge is understandable during this pandemic, it’s important to look at the facts to get the full picture. While there is an increased risk of shoplifting in some communities, there is currently no nationwide surge in shoplifting that could be attributed to the pandemic. Furthermore, the increased reports likely has to do with how shoplifting is counted in those areas. Ultimately, the measures being taken by businesses, such as utilizing new technologies, are helping keep theft rates in check.