Shoplifting is a common crime in Chicago, as it is elsewhere across the country. The fines for doing so can be stiff, depending on the circumstances and the value of the items taken. Retailers may also bar an individual from patronizing their store if they are caught shoplifting.
While it seems like a relatively minor crime, the financial impact looms large. According to the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention, American retailers lose over $45 million per day to shoplifting, and communities lose out on the corresponding tax revenue.
Some more statistics about shoplifting: it appears to be an equal opportunity crime, with men and women committing the crime about equally. About 75% of shoplifters are adults, and it is actually more prevalent among those with a higher education and income. Among the most commonly shoplifted items are baby formula, razors, clothing, and meat.
4 Common Reasons Why Chicagoans Shoplift
So why do Chicagoans shoplift? Here are four reasons, along with how these reasons might help your case if you or someone you know gets caught.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, kleptomania is “an impulse-control disorder characterized by a repeated failure to resist impulses to steal objects that have no immediate use or intrinsic value to the individual, accompanied by feelings of increased tension before committing the theft and either pleasure or relief during the act.” It’s rare, affecting less than 5% of shoplifters, but if you are diagnosed with kleptomania, you may be able to use your diagnosis as a defense in court.
2. Other mental health disorders
Beside kleptomania, there are other mental health disorders that can cause people to shoplift, such as bipolar disorder, severe depression or anxiety, dissociative disorder, and even traumatic brain injury. These disorders may be used as a defense if you can get corroboration from a psychiatrist or psychologist.
Some people shoplift because they don’t have enough money to buy the necessities of life. They may also make money from shoplifting by selling the stolen items for a profit. If you stole from a retailer out of desperation, a lawyer with experience in retail theft may be able to get your charges reduced.
4. Peer pressure
Oftentimes teens – or even younger children – are pressured to shoplift by their so-called friends. If it’s the first offense, there are legal alternatives to criminal charges. The child may be able to enter a First Offender Program, pretrial diversion, or deferred prosecution program. In these programs, the criminal charges are dropped upon completion of the program and payment of restitution. Charges may also be reduced via plea bargaining.
If you’ve been accused of shoplifting, it’s important to know you have rights – contact an attorney to discuss your case and see if you can lessen your charges as soon as possible.
About the Author
Sami Azhari has been working as a lawyer since 2007, after receiving his Juris Doctor from the Michigan State University College of Law. He has handled numerous state and federal cases, and is known throughout the Chicago and Rolling Meadows area for providing his clients with high-quality, skilled representation. He has been recognized by Avvo (2013 and 2018), SuperLawyers (2015-2020), The National Trial Lawyers, and other notable organizations, and has spoken at a number of legal conferences.