Sunday, June 16, 2024

Of women and shoplifting

It is a given that for many women, shopping is a natural affection done almost unconsciously with women having their eyes set only on the joy of their escapade; new footwear, new designer handbags and a bulging set of new clothes.

While this is understandable, as girls will always be girls, the all too familiar signs in retail stores written, “Due to increases in shoplifting, all handbags will be searched” betrays the flip side of the coin that accompanies the shopping frenzy.

Retail stores remain engaged in a war with none other than their biggest customers, women, who ‘forget’ to pay for their purchases.

If shopping is an unconscious act, then shoplifting surely must be a conscious one that women engage in.

Independent statistics in the United Kingdom show that the average shoplifter steals at least twice a week, gets caught one time in 48 and is then handed over to the police in 50 percent of cases. To do away with the numbers, simply put, there are more women in jail for shoplifting than any other crime.

In these recession-hit times where money is hard to come by, one cannot help but wonder if we are yet to see a surge in shoplifting.

What then drives women to shoplifting?
Is it the need to keep up appearances, a shopping addiction or maybe an innate need to get new things so as to achieve happiness?

Whatever the collective reasons, shoplifting is one act that results from taking shopping too far! It is a part of the fabric of today’s society where women engage in it so as to frantically keep pace with the rapid changes in fashion.

Let’s face it, fashion is rapidly changing at tsunami speeds – what was hot last year is just not this year so one has to inevitably stretch themselves an extra bit to stay in the game.

Women will nick just about anything small from sweets to chocolates, stuffing these in their handbags all the way to things like designer perfumes such as Estee Lauder, Revlon and L’Oreal.

Some go for make-up items such as eyeliners, lipstick and nail polish. Other daring divas target intimate clothing items such as bras and underwear taking advantage of the fact that no male security guard would search them without violating their privacy.

Even with the latest security detectors installed to curb shoplifting, the ever-sophisticated shoplifter remains unfettered by these advances in technology and continues to stuff items in headscarves, underclothing and destroy sensors attached on clothes.
One cannot help but wonder if there is a school somewhere that instructs in the ABC’s of shoplifting because the sophistication of women today is simply femme fatale.

A common method for shoplifters is to walk into a shop dressed exquisitely, the aim being to pass off as a person who can afford to pay for the clothing item and after having spent some time ‘shopping’, one then casually walks out as if they are going to receive a call (citing poor network reception in the shop). This is done just in case you are followed by management and one can argue that they had no intentions to steal, but were simply taking a call. Instead of the shoplifter, it is the network that is blamed.

One woman explained that the trick in shoplifting lay in making friends at a shop.

“At times it depends on the shop; if you frequent it a lot you can easily befriend a guard there and they can let you out scot-free with stuff that you would have stolen. I once got out with ladies wear worth a lot from a shop where the guard is a friend.”

It would almost seem as if shoplifting tendencies among women are likely to continue as long as the challenges of being single parents, unemployed and uneducated continue to haunt the fairer sex.

“Women’s challenges are real, some are single parents and shoplifting is the only way to feed their children, with many fearing to contract HIV/AIDS if they were to turn to things like prostitution and drug use,” said one University of Botswana female student.
However real be the challenges that women face surely shoplifting cannot be an ostensible cure for those difficulties. Imagine if all of us turned to looting because we had problems!

Businesses reel under the constant loss of revenue brought about by shoplifting; for the ladies, well, it just isn’t lady-like to shoplift!


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