Your daughter is wearing jewelry or clothes you've never seen before. Your son's CD collection seems to be growing. Would you recognize signs that your teen is shoplifting? (With Christmas right around the corner, shoplifting is more tempting for teens wanting to give nice gifts to friends and family, but have no source of income.)
"Five finger discount", "lifting", "jacking", "racking", "nicking", and "boosting" are some of the slang terms used for shoplifting. No matter what it is called, shoplifting is a crime that could land your teen into big trouble.
- About 23 million people steal from retail stores...that's 1 in 11 Americans.
- 1 out 4 shoplifters caught is a teenager.
- Shoplifters steal an estimated $25 million from stores each year.
- Teens age 13 to 17 account for 25% of all shoplifters arrested.
- 89% of teens say they know other teens who shoplift.
- Boys and girls, age 12 to 14 or younger, get involved with shoplifting.
- 20% of adults who shoplift say they started stealing in their teens.
WHY TEENS SHOPLIFT:
- For the thrill.
- On a dare or because of peer pressure.
- As a form of rebellion.
- The desire for things they can't afford.
- Some teens shoplift so they can in turn buy drugs or alcohol.
- Poor impulse control.
- Some teens shoplift to show off.
- Some teens will shoplift because they feel unworthy, unattractive or not accepted.
- Teens who shoplift may be depressed, confused or mad at the world.
- For an older teen, shoplifting may be a sign of a disorder, such as kleptomania.
- Teens typically steal items they can't afford or are not allowed to have, such as CDs, makeup, clothes, and cigarettes.
YOU GET THAT DREADED PHONE CALL, NOW WHAT?
- First, take a deep breath. If this is your teen's first time shoplifting, it doesn't been he/she is headed for a life of crime.
- Decide on the consequences beforehand.
- Find out who is in charge and if charges are being filed. (Most businesses won't file charges on a first offense.)
- Avoid confronting your teen at the scene. Don't try to humiliate your teen.
- Once you get home, allow yourself time to cool off. It is probably best to wait until the next day to discuss the incident, after you have calmed down, and your teen isn't defensive.
- Follow through with the consequences.
- Don't try to protect your teen if legal consequences are involved. Be there for your teen and support him/her, but let him/her suffer the consequences. There is no greater "eye-opener" than spending the night in a juvenile detention center.
WHAT TEENS NEED TO KNOW:
- Teens that are caught shoplifting are detained instantly.
- Shoplifters may be handcuffed and publicly escorted through the store to the manager's office.
- In most states, the punishment for shoplifting depends on the value of the merchandise stolen and whether or not the teen has shoplifted in the past.
- When a teen steals something with a value less than $300 to $500, the teen is usually charged as a petty theft misdemeanor. When a teen steals merchandise with a higher value or the crime is a repeat offense, he/she may be charged with a felony.
- The penalties for teen shoplifting can include punitive fines, community service, and jail time.
- Continued stealing can lead to greater consequences, including juvenile detention.
- He/she can be prosecuted, and retailers can demand and collect financial damages in civil court.
- Repeat offenders are arrested on the spot, and serious offenses involving weapons are remanded to adult court.
- Make sure your teen understands that if he/she keeps stealing and putting himself/herself at risk, you won't be able to protect him/her.
You may be thinking that only troubled teenagers shoplift, but even "model" teens can have trouble with stealing.
If the problem continues or if it's accompanied by other destructive behaviors, such as violent behavior, depression, falling grades or suspected substance abuse, you may need to consider seeking professional help.
Picture cururtesy of www.toptenz.net
Picture cururtesy of www.toptenz.net