The Five Finger Discount During the Holidays

ShopliftingThe Michigan State Police reported over 21,000 people were caught defrauding major retailers in 2014, counting for 8.3% of all criminal arrests in Michigan alone. This has led to retailers boosting prices to make up for the theft. From the beginning of the holiday busy season in October through the start of the new year in January, retail stores see their greatest sales volume of the year, but this particular quarter also accounts for half of all retail shrinkage.

There’s a common misconception among those who “lift” that the big retailers can afford the loss of a candy bar or a pack of smokes since it doesn’t really add up to a hill of beans when compared to the cash flow in the day-to-day business of retailers. However, all the fraud and theft adds up to $44 billion in what the retailers call “shrinkage”.

In Kent county alone, of 629,000 residents, 2,359 arrests were made for ‘the ol’ five finger discount’ or retail fraud, comprising 16% of all criminal arrests in the county.

According to Data Mine, women comprise 53% of shoplifting and fraud arrests, with white women comprising a third of those total arrests. However, you are three times more likely to be arrested for suspicion of shoplifting as a black woman. Likewise, black men are 3.5 times more likely to be arrested.

ShopliftingIn addition to the gender disparity, two-thirds of shoplifting involved items priced under $200. This is classified as third-degree shoplifting, with second degree involving items priced between $200 and $1000, and first-degree consisting of items above $1000. Meanwhile, only 91% of the arrests for shoplifting concerned actual theft, while 5% dealt with fraudulent exchanges and 4% with misrepresented, switching price tags for higher priced items.

Those arrested for shoplifting ranged in age from 9 to 92 years old, with four different 9-year-olds, one 90-year old woman, and one 92-year old white man arrested for such offenses. And of all the metropolitan areas and counties in the Mitten, Cadillac has the highest rate of theft and fraud per thousand residents.