Putting an End to Shoplifting
“Reducing theft is not just your problem, it is a problem for the whole community; everyone benefits when theft is stopped.”—“EVERY RETAILER’S GUIDE TO LOSS PREVENTION.”
SHOPLIFTING, like other bad practices, tends to influence a person’s thinking, causing him to justify himself. So, just as a gardener pulls out weeds by their roots, those who want to stop shoplifting need to root out bad thinking. ‘Make your mind over,’ admonishes the Bible at Romans 12:2. And at 1 Peter 1:14, it exhorts: “Quit being fashioned according to the desires you formerly had.” The following five points may help a shoplifter change his mind about stealing.*
Aids to Correct Thinking
◼ First, shoplifting is against the law. Stealing may be common where he lives, and he may get away with it; but the shoplifter is still breaking the law.—Romans 13:1.
What happens when many break the law? According to the Bible, “law grows numb.” (Habakkuk 1:3, 4) In other words, the beneficial restraint of the law diminishes, resulting in a breakdown in civil order. Every time someone shoplifts, he weakens the foundation of law-abiding society. When that happens, everyone suffers.
◼ Second, shoplifting destroys trust. Such dishonesty erodes human relationships, making it hard for people to understand and deal fairly with one another.—Proverbs 16:28.
“My biggest sin of all is being too trusting.” Thus spoke a clothing store owner after thieves forced her into bankruptcy. She once trusted her customers and employees not to steal from her. Now she feels that her confidence was misplaced.
One person may lie to another and cheapen his own standing with that one. But shoplifters throw a pall of suspicion over all who enter a store after them. They cast honest people in the role of potential thieves. Does anyone have a right to do that?
◼ Third, the practice of shoplifting can lead to more serious crimes. In time, shoplifters may find themselves taking ever-greater risks.—2 Timothy 3:13.
The Final End of Shoplifting
◼ Fourth, and most important, one who shoplifts is at odds with Almighty God. His Word tells the thief to “steal no more,” and it warns of judgment against those who defy Him. (Ephesians 4:28; Psalm 37:9, 17, 20) But Jehovah forgives thieves who change. They can find peace with God.—Proverbs 1:33.
◼ Fifth, shoplifting, like all other crimes, will soon be a thing of the past. When God’s Kingdom takes full control of the earth as promised in the Bible, humans will treat one another with integrity and honesty. This means relief from the high price of shoplifting.—Proverbs 2:21, 22; Micah 4:4.
Although the shoplifter is referred to in the male gender, the principles here apply equally to male and female shoplifters.
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LOW-COST AIDS TO PREVENTING THEFT
Some small businesses may not have the means to purchase expensive security systems. But this does not mean that they are helpless against shoplifters. Often, businesses can secure their merchandise by taking some simple steps.
In a publication they coauthored, detectives Michael Brough and Derek Brown emphasize the need to pay attention to the customers: “Watch everyone. . . . You and your salespeople are the main line of defense.” They suggest approaching someone suspected of shoplifting in this manner: “Have you found what you’re looking for? Please leave it at the cash register, and I will ring it in for you.” “May I wrap that for you?” “Is the sweater the right size for you?” “May I get you a basket?” The detectives say: “This lets legitimate customers, as well as thieves, know that you have noticed them and are interested in them.”
Regarding orderliness, they say: “Keep displays fully stocked and neat. Constant attention to displays will keep you familiar with the merchandise, and the neater the display, the easier it will be to tell when something has been disturbed or removed.”—Every Retailer’s Guide to Loss Prevention.
Investigator Russell Bintliff suggests: “Clear aisles and full shelves help employees observe customer activities. By walking along an aisle where a suspicious person has been observed, an employee can determine what is missing and then, under the guise of checking stock, observe what is in the patron’s shopping cart or basket. . . . Shoplifters will know what is happening; honest customers will not even realize that the employee is watching them.” Regarding aisle layout, he says: “The layout should allow clear observation of customers by employees and [the store owner].”—Crimeproofing Your Business—301 Low-Cost, No-Cost Ways to Protect Your Office, Store, or Business.
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Honesty promotes trust and friendly relations