The tough economic climate is driving up shoplifting arrests, and the holiday season is making the situation worse, the New York Times reports. The timing is poor for stores that have had to shrink security staff amid financial woes. “More people are desperate economically, retailers are operating with leaner staffs, and police forces are cutting back or being told to deprioritize shoplifting calls,” said an industry-group rep.
Two leading retail associations say more than 80% of members are reporting shoplifting spikes. Internet fake-receipt services add to the problem, facilitating false returns for cash. “Retailers are trying to find a balance” between prosecution and a friendly environment, said another industry spokesman. “They want to provide good customer service at a time when it’s crucial for customers to be able to shop comfortably or to return unwanted or duplicate gifts.”