Shoplifting Fuels Corrupt Companies

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In recent years, shoplifting has become a “trend” of sorts, throughout social media, specifically on TikTok. Shoplifting is often referred to as “borrowing” and creators will post videos providing recommendations of the best places to “borrow” from, as well as tips to avoid getting caught. Although on the surface this seems problematic, is shoplifting really as bad as it is made out to be?

There are a few reasons for this uptick in shoplifting. The obvious reason being financial— people want free items. However, an overlooked reason is the rebellious aspect of shoplifting. For most, shoplifting is used as a means of rebelling against big, rich companies that are capitalizing off of unethical labor. Furthermore, this act of shoplifting reveals the lack of respect customers hold for certain companies. For example, shoplifters typically target chain companies such as Walmart, Forever 21 and Pacsun. Companies like this often have very loose policy rules and security making shoplifting much more accomplishable. Additionally, it is known that large companies similar to Walmart are often anti-union, have had several sweatshops, or had child labor or similar allegations made against them. This is often used as an excuse on behalf of shoplifters— if a company does not take proper care of their employees, or work fairly for their products, then they do not deserve the proper revenue. Although these issues of child labor, sweatshops and overall inhumane work conditions are a serious problem that need to be handled, shoplifting is not the answer. While stealing could potentially have long term damaging effects to the victim companies, they will still receive immense revenue from the rest of their customers and this level of stealing can not do enough harm to derail them; the support heavily outweighs the protest. 

From this angle, shoplifting is seemingly insignificant, with no consequence to the consumer or the victim. However, this is incorrect. Through the eyes of some it might seem that these companies “deserve” it for their poor work conditions, shoplifting does not serve proper justice and further perpetuates the true problem. Those who steal from big chain stores are not only stealing from the company, but also stealing from the workers and employees who are directly affected by this. In many cases, even when working for these large companies, employees can face extreme consequences for shoplifters. Moreover, the continued demand for products pushes for a greater supply, requiring more work on behalf of workers; therefore continuing the cycle.

 Given that these companies do not deserve to be stolen from, this is not to discount the underlying problems. Several of these large companies are participating in child labor, own sweatshops, and have overall inhumane working conditions with very low wages and poor hours—and these problems need to be solved; however, shoplifting is not the solution. Notably, shoplifting distracts from the real problems and actually worsens the situation.

The concept of shoplifting is complex, as there are strong arguments to be made in both directions. But, ultimately shoplifting is not the answer. Shoplifting inevitably does not solve the problem of poor working conditions or cause any real harm to the company. Although the effects of shoplifting seem minimal, shoplifting negatively impacts those involved, and morally, stealing is wrong and distracts from the real problem that needs to be solved.