Juvenile Shoplifting – On the Rise and a Gateway Crime to More Serious Crime

According to the National Crime Prevention Council, 25% of all shoplifters (approximately 27 million) are between the ages of 13 and 17 (that’s 6,750,000 kids). As parents, we tend to focus on issues such as drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling etc. Shoplifting is often overlooked as a serious problem.

The Ethics of American Youth – 2008 Summary published by The Josephson Institute of Ethics reports that one in three boys and one in four girls admitted to stealing from a store in the past year. This is an increase from 28% in the 2006 survey to 30% in the 2008 survey.  Could “the one” be your child?

Why should you be concerned if your child shoplifts? The consequences of shoplifting are more serious than most people realize. 

  • Shoplifting is a gateway crime – 30% of prison inmates say they started out their life of crime as shoplifters.
  • Shoplifting can become a lifelong problem – 55% of adult shoplifters say they started shoplifting in their teens.
  • Some universities and colleges do background checks, which could prevent your child from being accepted to the school of their choice if they have a theft record.
  • Many employers do background checks on employees prior to hiring. Even though juvenile court records are sealed, a child’s behavior may limit what jobs will be available. 
  • If convicted of shoplifting your child may have to pay fines, do community service, or be sentenced to a detention facility or juvenile hall.

Knowledge is the key to helping children withstand peer pressure and understand they will jeopardize their future if they shoplift. Teach your children the consequences of shoplifting. Help them to understand that a choice they make in an instant can have consequences that will last a lifetime.

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