Australia's #1 for Law
Join 150,000 Australians every month. Ask a question, respond to a question and better understand the law today!
FREE - Join Now
Shoplifting is the theft of goods from an open retail establishment, typically by concealing a store item on one's person, in pockets, under clothes, or in a bag, and leaving the store without paying. With clothing, shoplifters may put on items from the store and leave the store wearing the clothes. The terms "shoplifting" and "shoplifter" are not usually defined in law. The crime of shoplifting generally falls under the legal classification of larceny. Shoplifting is distinct from burglary (theft by breaking into a closed store), robbery (stealing by threatening or engaging in violent behavior), or armed robbery (stealing by using a weapon). In the retail industry, the word "shrinkage" (or "shrink") can be used to refer to merchandise lost by shoplifting, but the word also includes loss by other means, such as waste, uninsured damage to products, and theft by store employees.
Shoplifters range from amateurs acting on impulse, to career criminals who habitually engage in shoplifting as a form of income. Career criminals may use several individuals to shoplift, with some participants distracting store employees while another participant steals items. Amateurs typically steal products for personal use, while career criminals generally steal items to resell them in the underground economy. Other forms of shoplifting include swapping price labels of different items, return fraud, or eating a grocery store's food without paying for it. Commonly shoplifted items are those with a high price in proportion to their size, such as disposable razor blades, vitamins, alcoholic beverages, and cigarettes.
Stores use a number of strategies to reduce shoplifting, including storing small, expensive items in locked glass cases; chaining or otherwise attaching items to shelves or clothes racks (particularly expensive items); attaching magnetic or radio sensors or dyepacks to items; installing curved mirrors mounted above shelves or video cameras and video monitors, hiring plainclothes "store detectives" and security guards, and banning the bringing in of backpacks or other bags. Some stores have security guards at the exit, who search backpacks and bags and check receipts. Stores also combat shoplifting by training employees how to detect potential shoplifters.
The first documented shoplifting started to take place in 16th century London. By the early 19th century, shoplifting was believed to be primarily a female activity. In the 1960s, shoplifting began to be redefined again, this time as a political act. Researchers divide shoplifters into two categories: "boosters" (professionals who resell what they steal), and "snitches" (amateurs who steal for their personal use).

View More On
  1. J


    I'm a 16 year old girl that lost their job at the end of December. I was super desperate and stole some rum with a friend to get drunk and get rid of the pain as I was actively bullied in the workplace. The rum was absolutely s**t and we threw it out. today the cops pulled up at her doorstep...
  2. W

    WA Please some advice

    Yesterday I was apprehended by a loss prevention officer for attempting to steal, they said that as it was over $50 I needed to wait for police to attend and took a photo of my id. I fully cooperated but I waited 1.5 hrs and as I explained I could not wait I had to leave as there was no one to...
  3. A

    WA Shoplifting target

    Good afternoon, Today I accidentally didn’t scan the bottoms of my bikini in Target as the top and bottoms were the same and I was scanning a lot of things, as I walked out the shop, two people undercover pulled me aside and said I had been caught not scanning my items, I told them they could...
  4. C

    VIC caught almost shoplifting

    My friend and I are teenage girls living in australia recently we went to kmart and my friend unpackaged a 10 dollar hair product but then left it before we went to exit the store. A store lady stopped us and asked her where the hair oil is she said she left it then she asked us to get it and we...
  5. A

    VIC Caught Shoplifting from Chemist Warehouse

    I got caught shoplifting in a Chemist Warehouse store in Victoria. But I really didn't mean it today, when I was holding a shopping bag in my hand, I put the health care products into my pocket, and forgot to take it out when I went out to check out,I just paid for what I had in my hand. The...
  6. akh

    NSW Shoplifting at coles

    Hello, yesterday I was caught shoplifting at coles, ( worth $160). I did pay for my other items. They took me to the front desk and asked why I didn't pay for it. I said I was in tough place and that I'm struggling this week due to my husband leaving me and my 2 children, leaving me in such...
  7. F

    VIC Caught shoplifting at coles

    I have been caught shoplifting at Coles. I can't believe I did it, I had paid for some item but had to get a gift for someone & could not afford to. It was stupid and I've never done it before. It was maybe 70 dollars worth but not completely sure. The undercover officer stopped me & I...
  8. U

    VIC kmart shoplifting

    i am a teenage girl and shoplifted from kmart. it was a dare from a friend and i feel really bad about it and will never do it again. i just took about $10 of beauty products into the change rooms, unboxed them, put them in my pockets and left the change room. afterwards, the change room worker...
  9. R

    NSW Caught shoplifting at Coles

    This is really embarrassing. I have been caught walking out of the store without paying for all my items. They initially issued me a warning because that was the first time and I apologized and offered to pay for the items i did not scan. They added it all up and it was over $50 so they issued...
  10. B

    VIC I got cought shoplifting in big w what next?

    Hi everyone, I was stupidly dared to shop lift some sandles that were 15$ from Big W. After going through the checkout and paying for items we did intend to purchase I was approached upon our exit by two plain clothed LPO’s, they asked to see what was in my bag and asked me to put the shoes...