One estimate finds holiday shoplifting is up by four percent from last year. "I'm not surprised at all. Not surprised at all. It's one of those bad things that go on and on," said shopper Dan Hiller of Berwick. Shopper Lou Mattioli of Walnutport used to work in retail and is aware of what the industry calls loss prevention. "I know that was always a big problem during the holiday season."
It's a problem that's too much for many merchants to bare alone. "One of the ways in which they offset their losses is to tack it onto the price of goods," said Ms. LaBruno. One estimate puts that cost passed onto customers at about $100 per family. "That's a lot of money. That's a lot of money that can be spent on presents and things like that. So, it's terrible," said Mr. Mattioli. Mr. Hiller added, "It hits the other customers that pay for everything real, real hard."
Loss prevention specialists say shoplifters haven't gotten pretty crafty through the years -- even using babies and strollers as tools to get away with stolen goods. Some even use what's called booster bags which Ms. LaBruno described as "foil lined bags that will prevent the alarm from sounding as they exit the store with stolen merchandise." The challenge for businesses is to prevent losses without causing lost sales. "It makes it very difficult for retailers to come out ahead on this," said Ms. LaBruno.
Retail analysts say many shoplifters don't plan on keeping the merchandise. They look to sell the items on the streets for profit.