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Teenagers Profiled for Shoplifting?

Joan JerkovichSeptember 26, 2014

I’m in high school and I hate it when my friends and I go to stores and feel like we get followed around in the store like we’re shoplifters. We don’t do that kind of thing and I get tired of feeling like we’re getting profiled. We’ve talked about saying something to them (the store clerks), and sort of messing with them, but should we? I don’t want to get in trouble for something I wouldn’t do anyway?

You know, your question reminds me of a time when my kids were teenagers and would come home from shopping, and tell me that they felt like they were being profiled. They would get followed around and watched in stores. Like you and your friends, they weren’t shoplifting, but they felt like just because they were teenagers, they were being targeting and watched closely. They talked about how this made them feel angry, frustrated and unfairly treated. I’m sure you and your friends feel kind of the same way. It doesn’t feel fair to be looked at like you’re a criminal when you aren’t doing anything wrong.

If it makes you feel any better, recently, I felt like I was being carefully watched for shoplifting at a sidewalk sale. The clothes racks were sitting outside the store so close to the parking lot that it would have been easy to grab a few things and stash them in my car. While looking through the racks, I noticed a store clerk pretending to be shopping close to me while keeping an eye on me. I chuckled to myself because, like you, I don’t shoplift (never have, never will…probably something to do with those Catholic school nuns and the possibility of going to hell…), but I quickly just told myself that she was simply doing her job.

Shoplifting is a scourge on our society. Facts taken from are that 1 in 11 people shoplift, and $35 million dollars worth of merchandise is stolen from retailers daily. Approximately 25 percent of shoplifters are kids, 75 percent are adults. 55 percent of adult shoplifters say they started in their teens. 89 percent of kids say they know other kids who shoplift. 66 percent say they hang out with those kids.

As based on these facts, sadly, your honesty places you in the minority for your age group. Kudos to you and your friends for being responsible teenagers who don’t shoplift!

Should you “mess” with the store clerks? No. They’re simply doing their job. Instead, you and your friends should hold your heads high and continue to set a good example for other teens. I’m proud of you. I’m sure your parents are as well. Thank you for submitting your question.

Joan Jerkovich, BCC Board Certified Life Coach

Joan Jerkovich, BCC
Board Certified Life Coach

The Joan Jerkovich Show
News Radio 1150 KSAL
Saturdays @ 6:00 am CST
Podcast posts to Mondays

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