PORTLAND, Oregon: More than spirits are being lifted this holiday season.
During the four weeks leading up to Christmas, an estimated $1.84 billion (BD694 million) in merchandise will be shoplifted this year, according to The Global Retail Theft Barometer, a survey of retailers worldwide. That's up about six per cent from $1.7bn during the same period last year.
"They shoplift for Christmas gifts, they steal for themselves, for their family," says Centre for Retail Research executive director and author of the survey Joshua Bamfield.
Crowded stores and harried clerks make it easier to slip a tablet computer into a purse or stuff a sweater under a coat undetected. But higher joblessness and falling wages have contributed to an even bigger rise this year, with people stealing everything from necessities to luxuries they can no longer afford.
"Shoplifting is generally a crime of opportunity - and opportunities abound at the holiday," says National Association for Shoplifting Prevention (NASP) spokeswoman Barbara Staib.
An estimated one in 11 Americans shoplift, according to the NASP.
Three-quarters of shoplifters are adults - equally men and women. More than 70pc of shoplifters say their crime was spontaneous.
Theft of all kinds - including shoplifting, organised retail crime, employee theft and vendor fraud - cost retailers more than $119bn worldwide in the 12 months ending in June, up nearly 7pc from the same period in 2010.
About 36pc of losses come from shoplifting. Employee theft represents 44pc.
Vendor theft and administrative error make up the remainder.