Shoplifting May Point to Mental Health Issues

Even the smallest of ‘innocuous’ actions can be considered—and are—shoplifting. That tiny something at the dollar store? The sugary treat your little one ate out of the candy bin while you were grocery shopping? No matter what, if it was for sale and you didn’t pay for it, that’s shoplifting. While larceny may vary in degrees depending on the monetary value, prior convictions and more, the reality is you can be heavily fined or even go to jail.

In most cases in California, shoplifting is considered petty theft though, and unfortunately for retail owners everywhere, most shoplifting either goes unnoticed initially or goes unpunished. There are other forms this can take too, such as stealing an item and then returning it for a refund. And while much of this activity may be simple criminal activity or desperation out of poverty, shoplifting—especially if it is chronic—can be a cry for help.

Some individuals may be stealing out of compulsive behavior, enjoying the thrill of it, or suffer from kleptomania—defined as the urge to steal items that may be of very little financial value, or even needed. The Mayo Clinic goes into further explanation of this disorder:

“Kleptomania is a type of impulse control disorder — a disorder that’s characterized by problems with emotional or behavioral self-control. If you have an impulse control disorder, you have difficulty resisting the temptation or drive to perform an act that’s excessive or harmful to you or someone else.”

“Many people with kleptomania live lives of secret shame because they’re afraid to seek mental health treatment. Although there’s no cure for kleptomania, treatment with medication or talk therapy (psychotherapy) may help to end the cycle of compulsive stealing.”

Symptoms of kleptomania often center around the illegal possession of retail items. If you or a loved one find yourself unable to stop shoplifting, or if you enjoy the thrill of getting away with it, kleptomania could be an issue—along with other symptoms such as taking items from the homes of friends and family. These items are often left completely unused! It is extremely important to reach out for help if you worry you may have such a condition. If someone you know needs help, speak to them before they end up in trouble with law enforcement.

If you or a loved one have been arrested in connection with a shoplifting event, call Dolan Law Offices for a free initial consultation at 760-775-3739.

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