As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak major havoc on the retail industry, the correlation between the level of social disorganization and shoplifting has become more prevalent, and unfortunately may also become permanent. It is widely known that shoplifting has drastically increased since the start of the pandemic. Reports of people loading up shopping carts with basic food items and simply walking out the door without payment are endless. Many, myself included, believe that this increase in theft will remain for the foreseeable future.
Tale of Two Motives
At first, it was fear that had caused pre-pandemically honest people to suddenly pushout cartloads of groceries and other items deemed essential. The fear was fueled by the thought that if people had to wait for an unemployment check or other form of government stimulus income, there wouldn’t be enough food or other basic needs available for them and their respective families. Although this fear proved to be unfounded, it was certainly understandable when many newsfeeds around the world had been broadcasting videos of fights in supermarkets.
Adding to that fear was the fact that supermarkets and drugstores were rationing items such as bottled water, toilet tissue and hand sanitizer. This caused people to panic in many parts of the world. Once people learned hand sanitizer, for example, was limited to two containers per person it became extremely easy for otherwise honest people to simply conceal a couple hand sanitizer bottles in their handbag or pocket and then purchase another two containers. Pre-pandemically honest people just learned how truly easy it is to become an amateur shoplifter.