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How Much Shoplifting Costs You

Shoplifting may have led to a man's death outside a Lithonia Walmart, but how does the petty crime affect the average consumer?

Shoplifting, a petty crime that may have cost a man his life outside a Walmart in Lithonia, hits Georgia families in the pocketbook each year.

Vidal Calloway, 40—a good person who had a drug problem, according to his wife—was dead when police came to arrest him on suspicion of shoplifting two DVD players, Stone Mountain-Lithonia Patch reported. The police report indicated Calloway was involved in an altercation with two employees and a private security agent.

The "truly sad situation," according to Walmart, brings to light incidents that happen every day, all across the country, and even more so during the holidays.

About 27 million people in America—that's 1 in 11 people—are shoplifters, according to the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention. More than $13 billion in goods each year are stolen from retailers, which represents more than $35 million per day.

"We have security measures in place to deter criminal activities such as shoplifting, and our asset protection teams do an excellent job of following those procedures," Walmart spokesperson Dianna Gee said about shoplifting. "We serve more than 140 million customers in our U.S. stores every week, and unfortunately, there will be individual incidents. But let me assure you that every store puts a lot of focus on its security and crime prevention measures."

While Walmart has "been successful in identifying people who break the law and steal from our stores," according to Gee, it's "associates are trained that the safety of our customers and our associates is our first priority," she said in a statement on the Lithonia incident. "No amount of merchandise is worth someone’s life. Associates are trained to disengage from situations that would put themselves or others at risk." 

In Cherokee County, Canton Police in October began looking for three men thought to be shoplifting electronics from Target. One of the suspects later turned himself in.

It's an issue that "overburdens the police and the courts, adds to a store's security expenses, costs consumers more for goods, costs communities lost dollars in sales taxes and hurts children and families," NASP says.

Shoplifters put retailers in the red by nearly $51.5 billion in 2011, and many stores reported actual and attempted shoplifting was up, according to the Center for Retail Research

Crimes affecting retailers' inventories plus their investments to prevent them pull at the purse strings of American families to the tune of nearly $200 a year, according to CRR. That's more than $66 per individual.

The "vast majority" of shoplifters steal not out of criminal intent, financial need or greed, but as a response to social and personal pressures in their lives, according to NASP.

Did you realize how much shoplifting could cost consumers? Where does the responsibility lie—with the retailers or the shoplifters? Tell us what you think in the comments!

dave smith November 30, 2012 at 11:56 PM
I have had a number of people steal from me. Employees included. I take this very personal. Unless you want me coming over to your house to steal your stuff, don't try it. We chase our thieving customers out of the store in some cases. Not afraid of taking time off work to prosecute these losers either. I think too many businesses turn the other cheek to often. Can't understand why this is. Punishment is necessary for these low life thieves.
People are Crazy December 03, 2012 at 04:35 PM
Everyone says "Vidal Calloway didn't have to die for what he took.L In my opinion they have not proven yet what caused his death. It could have been an overdose, a heart attack or unusual bleeding from the struggle of trying to get away that was caused from taking so many drugs. Whatever the reason, he was a 40 year old man and didn't have to shop lift anymore than he didn't have to die! I am tired of seing criminals being shown as victims. Who knows if he had broken into a home with a weapon the next day. His family says he wasn't like that. Well did they know he was a shoplifter? Were they with him when he was doing that? You can't say what someone would or wouldn't do when they are on drugs. They are too unpredictable. Stop the madness of victimizing criminals in the press!!!

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