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Retail theft and profiling: What really goes on

You enter the store and proceed to go about the business of shopping. As you sort through the racks of clothing, adding a garment or two to your shopping cart, you can’t help but feel the eyes of the store clerks and loss prevention personnel upon you.

Could you be profiled as a shoplifter? Most definitely. If you are African American, there is even a term coined for this type of profiling: “Shopping while Black.” But there is more to profiling than what is skin deep. Below are a few things you should know about shoplifter profiling.

Shoplifter profiling is not race-dependent

Loss prevention officers who are good at what they do will not just profile shoppers based on their race. Instead, they are taught to cast a far wider net that encompasses many factors and behaviors, including:

  • Wearing clothing inappropriate for the weather. Sure, they might just be cold-natured or get chilly in air-conditioned stores, but a shopper wearing deep-pocketed coats or bulky sweaters in the middle of a hot Georgia summer could have ulterior motives.
  • Using props while they shop. Baby strollers, diaper bags and even slings for supposedly broken arms can all be used to stash the goods until you get out of the store.
  • Seeking out blind areas. Every store has them — areas where the security cameras don’t film or capture only shadowy images. If potential shoplifters can figure these out, they can use them to their benefit when concealing items.

Naturally, these may not the only things that could alert security that shoplifting is happening, but they are on the top of the list.

Was it shoplifting — or an honest mistake?

If you stand accused of shoplifting, this can be very serious. It could even be a felony depending on the amount of the item. That’s why you deserve a robust criminal defense to convince the court that what might have appeared to be shoplifting was actually a mistake on your part.