Police Response to Shoplifting

Retailers in the U.S. often compain about the lack of police response to shoplifting cases.  However, our problems seem to be small compared to lack of response in some European countries. According to the Dutch Retail Association, shopkeepers see little point in reporting incidents of shoplifting to the police. Retailers who want to report theft or other crimes in their store often have to wait for weeks before they can file a report and have to go through a tedious procedure with reams of complicated forms.

The Dutch Retail Association, says there is very little follow-up once a crime has been reported, which discourages retailers even further from involving the police. In fact, the association says, retailers are considering not informing the police at all, and have called on the government to take action in changing the procedure for reporting crime in the retail branch.

In the U.K., it is now common practice for police to merely “cite” a shoplifter with a civil fine, much like a traffic ticket here in the U.S.  In 2004, police were given the power to issue £80 (~$120 USD) fines instead of an arrest for first time offences and thefts of goods worth less than £200.  But the British Retail Consortium (BRC) says they encourage persistent shoplifters who know they will face “no serious sanction” if caught.

It seems that regardless of how we feel about it, there is small hope for retailers that increased response or sanction is on the horizon.

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