Annual Retail Theft Survey

The Apprehension of Shoplifters and Dishonest Employees Has Increased in 9 of the Past 10 Years, According to Jack L. Hayes International’s 28th Annual Retail Theft Survey!

Click here to view a downloadable/printable PDF version of the survey, including some of our thoughts behind the numbers.

Wesley Chapel, FL – Over 1.2 million shoplifters and dishonest employees were apprehended in 2015 by just 25 large retailers who recovered over $200 million from these thieves, according to the 28th Annual Retail Theft Survey conducted by Jack L. Hayes International, the leading loss prevention and inventory shrinkage control consulting firm.

“Retail theft, by both shoplifters and employees, continues to plague the retail industry. Our latest Annual Retail Theft Survey (28th) reflects an increase in both shoplifter and dishonest employee apprehensions, 2.0% and 1.0% respectively, in 2015. Overall recoveries from those apprehensions totaled over $200 million and was up 1.2%”, said Mark R. Doyle, President of Jack L. Hayes International. “It should be noted that the apprehension of shoplifters and dishonest employees has increased in 9 of the last 10 years!” Mr. Doyle added, “Retail theft causes consumers to pay higher prices for goods, and is having a detrimental effect on retailers’ bottom-line profits.”

Highlights from this highly anticipated annual theft survey include:

  • Participants: 25 large retail companies with 21,288 stores and over $700 billion in retail sales (2015).
  • Apprehensions: 1,246,003 shoplifters and dishonest employees were apprehended in 2015, up 2.0% from 2014.
  • Recovery Dollars: Over $200 million was recovered from apprehended shoplifters and dishonest employees in 2015, up 1.2% from 2014.
  • Shoplifter Apprehensions: 1,170,056 shoplifters were apprehended in 2015, up 2.0% from 2014.
  • Shoplifter Recovery Dollars: Over $150 million was recovered from apprehended shoplifters in 2015, an increase of 3.2% from 2014. An additional $142 million was recovered from shoplifters where no apprehension was made, up an amazing 18.8% from 2014.
  • Employee Apprehensions: 75,947 dishonest employees were apprehended in 2015, up 1.0% from 2014.
  • Employee Recovery Dollars: Over $55 million was recovered from employee apprehensions in 2015, down 4.0% from 2014.
  • One in every 38 employees was apprehended for theft from their employer in 2015. (Based on almost 3.0 million employees.)
  • Shrink: 60% of survey participants reported an increase in shrink in 2015, with just 24% reporting a decrease in shrink, and 16% reported shrink stayed about the same.

Jack L. Hayes International, Inc. has been in the Loss Prevention/Shrinkage Control consulting business for over 35 years, and is recognized on an international level as the foremost loss prevention and inventory shrinkage control consulting firm in the world.

SURVEY PARTICIPANTS

  • 25 Large Retail Companies
  • 21,288 Stores (representing an excellent cross-section of the United States)
  • $703,726,429,595 in Annual Retail Sales (2015)
TOTAL RETAIL THEFT APPREHENSIONS Difference
2014 2015 #/$ Pct. 
Apprehensions 1,222,000 1,246,003 24,003  1.96%
Recoveries $204,142,987 $206,529,916 $2,386,929  1.17%
Avg. Case Value $167.06 $165.75 -$1.30 -0.78%
Retail Theft Apprehensions Breakdown
SHOPLIFTING Difference
2014 2015 #/$ Pct. 
Apprehensions 1,146,753 1,170,056 23,303  2.03%
Recoveries $146,049,421 $150,772,653 $4,723,232  3.23%
Avg. Case Value $127.36 $128.86 $1.50  1.18%
Hours Per Apprehension*
(*9 companies reporting)
34.86 35.69  2.38%
Recoveries
(No Apprehensions Made)
$120,040,489 $142,611,822 $22,571,333 18.80%
DISHONEST EMPLOYEES Difference
2014 2015 #/$ Pct.
Apprehensions 75,247 75,947 700  0.93%
Recoveries $58,093,566 $55,757,263 -$2,336,303 -4.02%
Avg. Case Value $772.04 $734.16 -$37.88 -4.91%

EMPLOYEE THEFT
Employee theft is perceived by many to be the most severe problem facing industry today! Many people often think of theft and abuse in companies as being isolated acts, which in themselves cost an organization little. Unfortunately, this is untrue! It is also not true that most employees are caught stealing inexpensive items such as ‘pens, pencils, and paper-clips’ from their employers. Over the years, Hayes International has witnessed a steady and significant rise in this serious problem. Each year thousands of employees are caught stealing from their employers and co-workers. Furthermore, our studies reflect that this group of thieves are being caught stealing far more than a few insignificant supplies. Below are a few highlights of our most recent survey:

Highlights From Jack L. Hayes International’s 28th Annual Retail Theft Survey

  • One out of every 38 employees was apprehended for theft from their employer in 2015. (Based on comparison data of almost 3.0 million employees.)
  • Apprehensions: Survey participants apprehended 75,947 dishonest employees in 2015, up 1.0% from 2014. This was the 9th increase in employee theft apprehensions in the past 10 years!
  • Recoveries: Dollars recovered from dishonest employee apprehensions totaled over $55 million in 2015, down 4.0% from 2014.
DISHONEST EMPLOYEES Difference
20143 2015 #/$ Pct.
Apprehensions 75,247 75,947 700  0.93%
Recoveries $58,093,566 $55,757,263 -$2,336,303 -4.02%
Avg. Case Value $772.04 $734.16 -$37.88 -4.91%

JOB APPLICANT ADMISSIONS
To further evaluate the severity of employee theft, Hayes International analyzed over 19,000 randomly selected Applicant Review questionnaires (pre-employment ‘honesty tests’) given by CertiFinder to retail job applicants nationwide.

Of these 19,165 job applicants, 12,283 (64.1%) were rated as “low risk” and 3,700 (19.3%) were rated as “high risk”, due to their admissions of previous wrongdoings, and their attitudes regarding honest and dishonest behavior. (Note: The remaining 3,182 applicants (16.6%) were rated as “moderate risk”.) When comparing the admissions of “high risk” and “low risk” job applicants, it becomes most obvious why some applicants are considered a hiring risk and others are not. For example, listed below are various items on the Applicant Review questionnaire and the percent of high and low risk applicants admitting to each.


High Risk

Low Risk
→  I have frequently associated with fellow employees who admitted they were stealing merchandise from the company. 18.4% 5.4%
→  I am not an honest person and might steal or cheat. 9.3% 1.7%
→  I could be tempted to steal from my employer. 26.7% 7.8%
→  I might help friends steal from my company. 14.6% 1.3%
→  I have stolen money within the past 3 years. 17.5% 5.2%
→  I have stolen merchandise within the past 3 years. 15.9% 4.5%
→  I would possibly use marijuana/illegal drugs in the future. 23.1% 6.5%
→  I have previously sold marijuana or other illegal drugs. 4.3% 0.9%

Previous theft admissions for the group of 3,700 “high risk” job applicants totaled $256,050, or $69.20 per applicant, while the admissions for the group of 12,283 “low risk” job applicants totaled $71,930, or $5.86 per applicant. It is generally estimated the correct dollar amount for stolen money and merchandise is approximately 10 times the admitted amount. Therefore, based upon admissions made on The Applicant Review questionnaire, the average “high risk” job applicant was responsible for the theft of $692.03, compared to $58.56 for the average “low risk” job applicant.

SHOPLIFTING

  • Total retail losses are approximately $44.2 billion annually (based on University of Florida survey)
  • Shoplifting is conservatively estimated to account for 30% – 40% of total retail shrink/losses.  (Both University of Florida and Hayes International surveys)
  • Average shoplifting case for all types of retail is approximately $50.00  (Based upon data taken from various surveys)

Therefore, Hayes International estimates the following number of theft incidents and dollars lost to shoplifters:

Time Frame Dollars Incidents
Annually $13 – $18 Billion
($13.26 – $17.68 Billion)
260 – 350 Million
(265 – 353 million)
Daily (365 days) $36 – $48 Million
($36,328,000 – $48,438,000)
700,000 – 950,000
(726,575 – 968,767)
Per Hour (24) $1.5 – $2.0 Million
($1,513,698 – $2,018,264)
30,000 – 40,000
(30,274 – 40,365)
Per Minute (60) $25,000 – $33,000
($25,228 – $33,637)
500 – 650
(504 – 672)

SHOPLIFTING APPREHENSIONS SURVEY
Hayes International’s 28th Annual Retail Theft Survey reports on over 1.1 million shoplifting apprehensions taking place in just 25 large retail companies representing 21,288 stores with combined 2015 annual sales in excess of $700 billion. Some shoplifter-related highlights from this survey are:

  • Apprehensions: Survey participants apprehended 1,170,056 shoplifters in 2015, an increase of 2.0% from the prior year.  This was the 9th increase in shoplifter apprehensions in the past 10 years!
  • Recoveries: Dollars recovered from shoplifting apprehensions totaled over $150 million in 2015, a 3.2% increase from 2014. This was the 13th increase in shoplifting recovery dollars in the past 14 years.
  • Dollars recovered from shoplifters where no apprehension was made (over $142 million) increased an amazing 18.8% in 2015. This was the 19th consecutive year of increases.
  • Case Value: The average shoplifting case value in 2015 was $128.86, reflecting a slight increase (1.2%) from 2014 ($127.36).
SHOPLIFTING Difference
2014 2015 #/$ Pct.
Apprehensions 1,146,753 1,170,056 23,303  2.03%
Recoveries $146,049,421 $150,772,653 $4,723,232  3.23%
Avg. Case Value $127.36 $128.86 $1.50  1.18%
Hours Per Apprehension*
(*9 companies reporting)
34.86 35.69  2.38%
Recoveries
(No Apprehensions Made)
$120,040,489 $142,611,822 $22,571,333 18.80%

 

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