Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Rural Sociology


This study examined 333 cases of shoplifters apprehended at a clothing retailer, anchor store in a mall setting from 1995-1999 in upstate New York. The study focused on the reasons provided by individuals for their shoplifting behavior in an account between the shoplifter and a store detective to determine factors associated with the amount and type of merchandise shoplifted. Reasons provided by the individuals include: sale, drugs/trade, personal use, another person's use, an episodic economic event, peer pressure, and learned techniques/behavior through peer interaction. This study also examined age of the individual, if the person had prior arrests, the sex of the detective and the shoplifter, and whether an accomplice was present at the time of the shoplifting incident. Theories of rational choice and direct-contact predatory property crimes, functionalism, individual's adaptation, techniques of neutralization, accounts theory, and theories of retail geography and store planning adjacency theory are supported by the findings of this study. The identification of a "High Need" rebel shoplifter was the major contribution of this study. A "High Need" rebel shoplifter steals for sale or drugs/trade, is age 24 or higher, shoplifts high dollar merchandise, is more likely than other shoplifters to have a prior arrest, are apprehended by same sex detectives, and are more likely to have accomplices.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Shoplifting Shoplifting -- Psychological aspects



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University