In the four weeks before Christmas, shoppers will steal an estimated $1.84 billion in merchandise—a 6% spike over the same timeframe last year, according to a survey of retailers around the globe. The bump in shoplifting may be explained by dipping wages and high unemployment, reports the AP. It also doesn't help that teeming, chaotic shopping centers staffed with harried clerks make it easier for thieves to filch products.
"It's really a question of need versus greed," says one retail expert. "People will rationalize what they are stealing: 'Oh, I'm feeling the economy. I lost my job.'" Experts also indicate that people shoplift in December for reasons unrelated to personal finances, such as thrill-seeking or to relieve boredom or depression, which can flare up during the holidays. An estimated one in 11 Americans shoplift, and 70% would describe their crime as spontaneous.