Adolescent Shoplifting and Its Leading Causes

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Table of Contents

  • Definition of Shoplifting
  • Two Types of Social Relationships Influence Adolescent Involvement in Shoplifting
  • Peers Influence
    Parents Influence
  • Reference

Definition of Shoplifting

Shoplifting laws generally define shoplifting as taking or deliberately paying less for an item than the sale price. Shoplifting can include carrying, hiding, concealing, or otherwise swing merchandise

with the intent of taking it or paying less for it. Shoplifting laws also may be defined to include changing price tags, committing refund fraud, removing a shopping cart or any other commercial property from a store location, or intentionally using an illegitimate form of payment (Hallstrom, Northern Lights).

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Shoplifting is an offensive activity which has become a growing concern not only among retailers but also among consumer educators, governments and social scientists. It is the nation's largest monetary crime.

Two Types of Social Relationships Influence Adolescent Involvement in Shoplifting

Adolescent involvement in shoplifting influenced by exposure to friends who shoplift and their bond to their parents.

Peers Influence

I believe that adolescent shoplifting expansion through peer influence because they see their friends doing it and they tend to do it too. I remember when I was ten years told my friends used to shoplift and I started shoplifting too isn’t that I couldn’t afford the things I was shoplifting but I was doing it because my friends were shoplifting too. Klemke (1982) constructed that adolescent own act related to that of their peers. For adolescent to choose the bad habits of their peers there most be deviant social influenced process.

Sutherland’s differential association theory suggest that people learn their values, motives, techniques, and attitudes through their communication with others. The differential association theory also suggests that the learning process for criminal behaviour happens with in close personal circle and relationship. This technique helps individuals to learn how to become criminal (Sutherland 1947). I think I can comfortably say that adolescent learn how to become shoplifter by communicating with their peers and ask for techniques on how to shoplift without being caught. The closer relationship they have with the peers who are shoplifter the higher the chance to adopt and learn the criminal behavior. Expansion to shoplifting influence adolescent own moral principles against shoplifting, and adolescent may be convinced by their shoplifter friends’ rational power for this behavior. For example, when I and my friends used to shoplift, we used to say that everyone does it, the shop owner wouldn’t notice, we are not hurting anyone, and it the shop fault for not having security and overcharging for the items we wanted. Sykes and Matza (1957) classified explanation and excuse that provide a moral release into few types, which they called “techniques of neutralization”: which include Denial of injury Offenders may deny that anyone or anything was harmed by their action. For example, shoplifters might claim that stores have so much money and insurance that “They can afford it” or employee thieves may claim their company wastes so much “They’ll never miss it.” Appeal to higher loyalties many offenders argue that their loyalties lie with their peers, and they can do anything for their peers.

Parents Influence

Adolescents' involvement in shoplifting is also likely to be influenced by their relationship with their parents. Many studies shown a negative relationship between youths' default and their attachment to theft parents. In the other word if adolescent strongly attach to their parent who are theft, they are more likely to become to become criminal themselves because parent accept the criminal behaviour. One very important element of the behavior learned in intimate social groups and considered by

Sutherland was the rationalizations that accompany behavior (Sutherland 1947). In addition, Klemke (1982) found that adolescent who had close and positive relationship with their parents are less exposed to shoplifting for two reason firstly because the adolescent parents knows most of their children activities and secondly the parents are good influence on them.

A steady parent-child attachment is also likely to influence the adolescent's peer circle. But this influence can be positive or negative depending on what kind of relationship the adolescent has with their parents and whether the parents influence them positively or negatively. Matza’s (1964) control theories assume that offense act results when an individual bond to society is not strong or broken. Control theory also suggest that connection to any object outside one self, whether the object is family members, peers, home town. Although some object is more important than others, and the important the object the more influence power they have on the individual. In other word if adolescent has strong attachment with their parents and if parents are more important the adolescent are more likely to be influence positively or negatively.

The important of this paper is to show that most young people are exposure to certain behaviour by their peers and parents, and to show that parents and peer influence young people more than people believe to be. The important of this paper is also show that being attach to something can influence our moral positively or negatively.


  1. Cox, Anthony D., et al. 'Social influences on adolescent shoplifting - theory, evidence, and implications for the retail industry.' Journal of Retailing, Summer 1993, p. 234+. Academic OneFile, Accessed 4 Mar. 2019.
  2. US Legal, Inc. (n.d.). Shoplifting Law and Legal Definition. Retrieved from
  3. Yogi, P. (2015, January 06). Retrieved from
  4. M. L., & S. H. (2004). Essential Criminology, Westview Press. Neutralization Theory: Learning Rationalizations as Motives, 168-176.
  5. Klemke, Lloyd W. (1982), 'Exploring Adolescent Shoplifting,' Sociology and Social Research, 67 (1), 59-75.

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