America's Most Stolen Products
byOct 14th 2010 6:00AM
Which retail goods are most alluring to professional shoplifters? The list may surprise you.
Shoplifting crimes usually only make the headlines when a Hollywood actress is caught like a deer in headlights sneaking designer clothes past a knowing security guard, or when the wealthy daughter of the former mayor of New York decides she'd rather not pay for her makeup. But for every celebrity with a mug shot, there's an army of professional thieves walking off unnoticed, stashing millions of dollars in retail goods. Meat is stuffed under skirts. Razor blades are loaded into "boost" bags. Baby formula is taken and resold to unwitting parents or to eager drug dealers who use the powder to cut cocaine.
Not surprisingly, American stores saw a spike in shoplifting in 2008, when the economy hit a downturn. According to the Global Retail Theft Barometer, produced by the UK-based Center for Retail Research, retail crimes such as shoplifting, employee theft, and supply chain fraud rose 8.8% in the United States, to $42.2 billion, that year. In 2007, retail crimes rose 1.5%.
[Scroll down to see list of America's 9 Most Stolen Products.]
But at least one US-based survey says that store theft is now on the decline, if only slightly. Early results of the latest National Retail Security Survey were released this summer and showed that retail theft decreased to 1.44% of sales in 2009, down from 1.51% in 2008. That meant that total losses rang up to $33.5 billion last year, compared to $36.5 billion in 2008, say authors of the survey, a joint project of the National Retail Federation and the University of Florida.
The modest decline is good news for American families who ultimately pick up the tab for stolen goods. Shoplifting is estimated to cost the average US household some $200 to $300 annually in higher prices. It's also an encouraging change for honest citizens who every year lose out on tens of millions in uncollected tax revenues because of retail theft.
So what are shoplifters nabbing, and why? Are cultural trends mirrored by criminal activity? Here Minyanville presents those objects that are most wanted -- and least paid-for -- across the country.
(Click on the links below for more interesting findings on each pilfered product.)
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Maybe she's born with it. Maybe she's stealing Maybelline.
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