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6 Reasons Why Teenagers Shoplift And The Legal Repercussions

Teen shoplifting is one of the biggest concerns not only for retailers but for parents as well. Based on the studies conducted by the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention or NASP, the total amount of stolen goods is about $13billion every year. Unfortunately, 25% of those who have been caught for shoplifting were teenagers. Even more disturbing is the fact that most of these teens do not even think of the crime as a big deal.

This crime is also very hard to detect. Contrary to what most people assume, teen shoplifters do not fit a particular category- good, troubled, girl or boy. In fact, even “model” teenagers who do well in school and do not do drugs, may have a problem with stealing. With this in mind, shoplifting is not only a sign of a trouble teen; but it can also be a problem for young adults with few problems beyond growing pains.

Common Reasons For Shoplifting

Many parents want to know why teenagers steal, but most young adults can’t provide a good explanation as to why they do it; however, here are a few of the common reasons for this behavior:

  1. Genuine Need: In some rare cases, teenagers steal because they have a genuine need for a particular thing. They might need something important but don’t have the money to pay for it.
  1. Intense Desire For Material Things Beyond Their Capacity: Teenagers want to have the latest gadgets, the trendiest outfit, or the coolest things. Unfortunately, not all families can afford to buy such expensive gadgets and clothes. There are some instances wherein the teenager cannot control their desire to possess these material things; thus, they end up stealing it.
  1. Fun And Thrill: There are some teenagers who commit this crime because they enjoy the feeling of getting away with something they shouldn’t be doing. They want to experience the adrenaline rush of not getting caught.
  1. Peer Pressure: It is only natural for teenagers to want to fit in to a certain group. Unfortunately, if he finds himself in bad company, he might be pressured to doing something he might regret. For instance, the young adult might steal because his friends coerced him to do so, or because his friends are doing it.
  1. Emotional Distress: There is a good reason why shoplifting is considered a sign of a trouble teen. Teenagers who are angry, wants to rebel, and wants attention, are more likely to steal from a retail shop. These teens want to draw attention to themselves.
  1. Kleptomania: This is a mental condition wherein the individual feels an irresistible urge to steal items they don’t really need or items that have little value. This is a serious mental health condition which can lead to huge problems if it is not addressed.


When Minor Thrills Lead To Legal Repercussions


Juvenile shoplifting is a big deal and it results to certain legal repercussions. Just because the crime was committed by a teenager, who is 13-17 years old, doesn’t make him a juvenile in the eyes of the law. For teen shoplifting, if the total amount of the crime exceeds a few hundred dollars, the nature of the shoplifting charge will be changed as well as how the court will persecute the young adult.

The common punishment for shoplifting conviction includes:

  • Probation: This limits the freedom of the adolescent in place of commitment to the custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice.
  • Detention: This is when the young adult is detained in juvenile hall to be educated.
  • Prison: If the teen is convicted of a felony, he might be sent to an adult prison facility. Shoplifting alone doesn’t deserve such a severe penalty, but if the act is committed in combination with other crimes, the teen might face possible prison time.

As a parent, you must be aware of the legal ramifications of teen shoplifting and educate yourself about the common reasons behind such behavior. In doing so, you can make your child understand the consequences of such acts and how to prevent them from shoplifting in the first place.

The author, Kris Hopkins, is a writer for teen parenting websites where she offers tips and advice for parents of troubled teens. She advises her readers to look for a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney if their child is charged with any juvenile crime.

About Emma Gilbert

Working in the marketing industry since 2002. This blog is one of my hobbies.

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