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Study on shoplifting provides insights that stores may use to profile shoppers

A study once found that people who purchase items from a store carry a much lower chance of engaging in shoplifting.

While this seems to be a pretty low-key discovery, it may have had huge implications on the way that store security professionals look for shoplifters and potential shoplifters.

The study points to behavioral cues as a reason to suspect someone of shoplifting

The study was working toward identifying shoplifters based on activity, so what it really meant was that people rarely stole one item while buying additional items on the same trip. The most likely shoplifter in a store is the person who wanders around the store, skips the checkout line and heads toward their car empty-handed — as opposed to anybody who gets in line to pay for an item, however small. 

The unfortunate drawback is that this could mean someone who honestly forgot they had an item in their possession could be accused of shoplifting. After all, they, too, could skip the line. They could then walk out with the item still on their person by accident, perfectly fitting this description. 

For instance, perhaps you went into the store looking for a new coat. You didn’t see one you liked, but you spotted a pair of sunglasses on your way to the coats. You put them in your pocket since you didn’t have a cart for just one item and needed your hands free to try on coats. Then you walked out without buying anything, and it looked like your goal was just to steal the sunglasses. 

Similarly, people sometimes get accused of shoplifting when they enter a store, fail to find what they wanted and try to leave again. All it takes is for a single item in their possession to be something the store also sells for the accusations to fly.

Your rights when accused of shoplifting

Mistakes happen. If one mistake gets you in trouble with the law, you must know all of your rights when it comes to your defense. A shoplifting charge has serious implications for your future. Talk to a defense attorney today about your case.