Shoplifting is a Major Concern Among Parents of Teens

In the past 6 months, we have gotten about 20 to 30 emails from young people as well as parents reporting that shoplifting is a major concern. Here are some thoughts from my research as well as our teen trendsetter network.

Ideas on Shoplifting:

1) Shoplifting Is Old

Shoplifting has always been a problem among young people. I think that perhaps we are now seeing more of a problem, but parents and adults who think that this has not been an issue for every generation are mistaken. Shoplifting is an old problem; it is just dressed a little differently

2) What is Shoplifted is Different

I asked my teen trendsetter group about this trend. They said that what is mainly different about shoplifting today is that what’s stolen is no longer just gum and snacks. Today, it is iTunes gift cards and Red Bull.

Top 5 Things Teens Shoplift:

iTunes Cards

Red Bull




3) Alcohol and Cigarettes

These did not make the top 5, but were towards the top. Many teens, when asked, do not consider stealing alcohol shoplifting. In fact, one of my teen advisers says, Stealing alcohol is like a rite of passage. You do it to grow up. Plus, we practically deserve to get alcohol for free because we CANT buy it. I would buy it if they would let me. I steal it because they will not let me buy it.

4) Digital Shoplifting, i.e Teen Piracy

Another change is piracy or digital shoplifting. A few adults I spoke to said they used to steal cassettes, CDs or even records. Teens today said they would too, and they do. It is just online.

5) Still Immune

Shoplifting, unfortunately, is still no big deal. Many teens also feel completely immune to getting caught and do not think it would be so bad if they did. This is my biggest concern. I think parents need to talk about the potential consequences of shoplifting (legal as well as at home), and also remind kids that more and more stores have cameras now.

Overall, shoplifting is something that ALL parents, of kids of all ages, all demographics and all areas should talk about. In fact, the kids who steal most are usually the ones who need the stuff the least. Talk to your kids and make sure they understand the consequences and that you have insight into where they stand.

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