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Shoplifter Profiles

shoplifter profiles, shoplifting deterrent, shrinkage, retail theft, concealment

Shoplifting. Concealment. Stealing. External theft. Retail theft. Shrinkage.

Whether you call it shoplifting or theft, it’s a loss for retailers that costs $798.48 per incidence*.

shoplifter profiles, shoplifting deterrent, shrinkage, retail theft, concealment

While you may have loss prevention strategies in place to combat shoplifting, are you familiar with the behaviors and profiles of those who are shoplifting in your store?

By studying shoplifter profiles, you can identify the behaviors of potential shoplifters and tailor your shoplifting deterrent training and procedures.

Shoplifter Profile #1: Opportunist

  • This is the largest group of shoplifters and includes average people, who consider themselves to be honest.
  • Often opportunists can be frequent shoppers who take advantage of opportunity(s) for theft when they arise.
  • Group often rationalizes theft as acceptable because they are frequent customers and losses can be “written off”.
  • If an opportunist is caught, they will display guilt, shame, or remorse.

Shoplifter Profile #2: Impoverished

  • This group will shoplift necessities (i.e. food, diapers, toiletries, clothing, etc.)
  • Often the appearance of the shoplifter may be poor or impoverished.
  • Group will rationalize theft as acceptable due the “system” keeping them economically impoverished.
  • If this type of shoplifter is caught, they will show remorse.

Shoplifter Profiles #3: Drug User

  • This group prefers theft of expensive, high-end items in multiple quantities.
  • Signs of substance abuse may be present in the shoplifter’s appearance and drug paraphernalia may possibly be present also.
  • Thefts committed by drug users are almost always rationalized as a way to support their drug habit.
  • When caught, they are often combative.

Shoplifter Profile #4: Thrill Seeker

  • Theft from thrill seekers occurs in groups, often teenagers.
  • Shoplifting may be the result of an initiation, ritual, or dare.
  • The shoplifting methods of thrill seekers become more refined with each successful theft.
  • Proficiency and success in theft may eventually lead to professional shoplifting.

Shoplifter Profile #5: Kleptomaniac

  • This group is the most impulsive and careless in their preparation and methods.
  • Theft by kleptomaniacs is an attempt to satisfy unmet mental or emotional needs.
  • Often the items stolen are not necessities or even usable to the shoplifter.
  • If caught, kleptomaniacs will readily admit to being a kleptomaniac and not show remorse or shame.

Shoplifter Profile #6: Professional

  • Like drug users, professionals prefer theft of expensive, high-end items in multiple quantities.
  • A professional shoplifter often earns a living through their theft.
  • Shoplifting tools of theft are carried by this group, as their theft is planned.
  • If a professional shoplifter is caught, they will resist being detained and attempt to flee; or their demeanor will be calm and emotionless.


Once you know the shoplifter profiles, you can put this knowledge to work by training your team to deter shoplifters.

Shoplifting deterrent procedures are key to reducing shrinkage.

* Source:

Need more insight into theft and its prevention? Join us for a FREE 30 minute webinar on Loss Prevention over the Holidays on Thursday, November 8th at 11 am EST. RSVP today to reserve your seat.


Author information

Jim Close is the Director of Loss Prevention at DIGIOP, bringing over 25 years of experience in all facets of Loss Prevention. His work with retailers spans from shoplifting to internal theft.


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