crime

Shoplifting on the increase

17 Comments
By Rachel Tackett

According to the National Police Agency, the number of shoplifting cases on record has been at a steady high for the past 10 years or so. In 2012 there were a total of 135,000 documented cases nationwide.

For shoplifting in particular, the problem appears to lie less with the will of the law enforcement and more with the attitudes of society. Many individuals will become angry and defensive on behalf of the thieving criminals, as though having beat the shop’s security system makes it acceptable to have stolen something in the first place. This has caused quite a few problems for security officials.

One example of small-scale theft comes from a certain large-scale shopping center in Japan. People take carts containing rice or liquor out into the parking lot under the guise of having forgotten their wallets in the car. Then, somewhat unsurprisingly, they load up their trunks and drive off without paying. Some people might say that if the store is going to let would-be customers take merchandise out to their cars before having paid for it, then they’re just asking to be taken advantage of, but let’s try not to blame the victim here.

It’s been shown in a 2011 study by the NPA that if caught in the act of shoplifting, most adult perpetrators will refuse to acknowledge any level of wrongdoing and will instead become violently angry. The study also revealed that having to pursue a shoplifter for too great a distance is off-putting to the store’s employees. So, in order to avoid conflict, shopping centers, like the one mentioned above, put their faith in the customers while putting themselves at a greater risk of theft.

One method being used to curtail shoplifting is dispatching security guards dressed in regular civilians’ clothes. This makes it much easier to catch shoplifters in the act. Unfortunately, this method has met a new hurdle in the form of modern technology. A Japanese security expert explains, “Young people use their cell phones to take pictures of casually dressed security guards and send it to their shoplifting cohorts as a heads-up. Being discovered is quite troublesome. And, even when the kids are caught red-handed, the children’s parents will argue things like ‘If my child stole that game, then isn’t it you who needs to tighten up security?’ and become angry on behalf of the miscreant. They won’t acknowledge that their child has done something wrong.”

In one Osaka fish market, where shoplifting is ever-prevalent, shop owners have taken matters into their own hands by posting pictures of shoplifters in their storefronts. However, when a discount store in Gunma Prefecture’s Takasaki City tried a similar method, the region’s Legal Affairs Bureau declared that doing so lacked concern for the basic human rights of those individuals. Thus, the store ended its practice of identifying thieves. Apparently, criminals in Gunma have a greater right to protect their image than stores have to protect their merchandise.

Japan will certainly continue its defense against shoplifters, whether in the form of hired hands or the storefront shaming of offenders. It can be difficult to reconcile measures necessary for crime prevention with the protection of people’s privacy and human rights.

Source: News Post Seven

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17 Comments
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In 2012 there were a total of 135,000 documented cases nationwide.

Which in reality means that there were probably 5 times as many cases as I know that there are many that do not get reported. In the neighborhood I lived in a conbini was forced to close due to losses incurred by shoplifting.

Shoplifting increases whenever the economy goes bad and people's incomes drop. With the increase across the board in food prices it won't surprise me one bit if this goes even higher.

Another thing is the lack of ethnics and morals of many of the people who shoplift. I've seen elderly people take things and when caught act like it's no big deal, and as if the person who caught them was wrong for stopping them in the first place and their attitude of entitlement and thinking that because the item they took was of little value the shop owners should over look their thievery.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

Shoplifting on the increase like Japan's debt and its not covered under Abenomics.

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

If businesses had to absorb their own losses, I'll bet there would be one helluva lot less shoplifting going on. Shoplifters have simply given retailers an excuse to raise their prices to cover their losses and pad their profits, all at the same time. Many large retailers do inventory once every six months and call their losses. Then they collect insurance for the loss. Guess who actually pays for the loss. Consumers do. What a racket!

2 ( +7 / -5 )

****worrying about the human rights of shop lifters is indeed very strange

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Why not put barriers in the supermarkets - like in Germany you go in, but you only can exit when going trough a register.

You have an entry door which opens automatic from outside and en exit door which opens from inside only.

The same open shops you have here in Japan would literally be empty in Europe.

When I was a minor -15 years old- I got caught, they send me straight to the police, parents had to pick me up and than to court so I had to do 65hour of community service, at a social institution of my choice. I stole 100Euro worth of CD's back than.

I think the approach of getting angry at the shop which you or your child stole from is behind being silly.

Also since that day, I never stole anymore anything, it was a lesson, sure there always will be people doing but a lot of people especially teenager do it for the kick not because of they are poor, they are not steeling food to not starve but video games etc. non life essentials.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Wasn't it only about a month ago when the news of the Canadian who was caught stealing a camera at Japanese airport made headlines? I asked here, why that's even considered news, and I was told unlike in other places, Japanese rarely shoplift that's why it's big news. This story proves now that's not true. According to statistics, Japan is second in the world after United States as shoplifting paradise.

6 ( +10 / -4 )

According to Japan National Police, 461.5 billion yen (estimate) of goods were stolen from retailers in 2009.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

And, even when the kids are caught red-handed, the children’s parents will argue things like ‘If my child stole that game, then isn’t it you who needs to tighten up security?’ and become angry on behalf of the miscreant. They won’t acknowledge that their child has done something wrong.”

These are perhaps the same parents who blame schools for their child's bad behaviour and make teachers' jobs harder than they should be. Parents need to take responsibility for their little angels. As for the ranting and raving from adults caught in the act, I think an extra few weeks of community service should be added to their sentence.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I think an extra few weeks of community service should be added to their sentence.

There is no such thing as community service in Japan, which is a part of the problem. People pay their fines, restitution, maybe a day in jail, and go on their way.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Apparently, criminals in Gunma have a greater right to protect their image than stores have to protect their merchandise.

No, it just means that vigilante justice is banned in Japan as it is in any civilized society.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Idiots for allowing items to leave store premises prior to payment.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Jan Claudius WeirauchJun. 18, 2013 - 09:42AM JST Why not put barriers in the supermarkets - like in Germany you go in, but you only can exit when going trough a register. You have an entry door which opens automatic from outside and en exit door which opens from inside only.

On a high theft stores, maybe security has to make the exit area similar to Costco where you have to show receipt for the items you purchase to the security personnel. You need to also have presence of overhead security cameras as evidence as they match against the receipt.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

This is one of the most poorly written "articles" I've ever read on Japan Today. After the first paragraph, it's all conjecture and hearsay.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

most of the shoplifter i've seen on the news are old peoples!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Jeez, why buy something when you can just shoplift it, lol. I can't stand it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Some pple steal for resale ,guess times are hard or they just want to fund their addictions.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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