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Delhi cursed by shoplifting

Store owners in the Capital say they lose lakhs every year — to the menace of shoplifting by young customers.
Hindustan Times | By Shara Ashraf, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 11, 2011 09:37 AM IST

The video of Hollywood actor Lindsay Lohan stealing a necklace from a jewellery store in LA may be a rage online, but Delhi’s shop owners are not impressed. The Capital, they say, has a large number of ‘Lindsays’ who specialise in hoodwinking security and getting away with stuff they haven’t paid for. “We lost around Rs 50 lakh this year just on shoplifted goods,” says Sanjay Sahni of the retail chain Rituwears. “Losing Rs 20-25 lakh a year to shoplifters is quite a pain,” adds Asheeta Chhabra of garments chain Chhabra 555.

Shoplifters, that are mostly young people, apply innovative techniques to steal. “Women roll up a kurti or a duppatta and slip it into their bags. Sometimes we even notice a garment missing but if it is not too expensive, we avoid a scene,” says Chhabra.

“We’ve caught college students carry a Swiss-knife in their pocket and use it to remove the magnetic tags from clothes,” says Sahni. Shoplifting is at its worst during winters. “People wear stolen clothes under sweaters or coats and walk out confidently. Everyone looks bulky in winters, so it’s hard to spot them,” he adds.

Interestingly, lingerie tops the list of shoplifted items. “Bras are the most shoplifted items. Once, a woman took five bras to the fitting room and then walked out wearing them,” says Hemant Gupta of lingerie chain, Kunchals, which loses Rs 5-7 lakh a year to shoplifters. “Also, pilferage by the staff is a matter of concern,” he adds.

Jeweller Praveen Goyal of SRM says he catches at least two people every week trying to shoplift. “A woman once slipped three gold chains into her bag. When we caught her, she said she was planning to buy them anyway.”

Foreign celebs in shoplifting tangle
In 2007, Hollywood actor Adam Rickitt was accused of shoplifting a bottle of sauce, cheese and coffee
In 2001, actor Winona Ryder was caught shoplifting $5,000 worth of products from a store
In 2003, TV actress Shelley Morrison shoplifted jewellery worth $446

“Yes, I shoplift”
Pol Science graduate Ana Sinha (name changed), 24, has been shoplifting since she was 15. Her loot includes perfumes, earrings, cosmetics and T-shirts. “It’s a passion. I just can’t resist flicking something I fancy,” she says. “The urge to steal for a thrill is a serious disorder and such people need counselling,” says psychiatrist Dr Adhvesh Sharma.

Tell tale signs
An average shoplifter is between 18-35 years old, well dressed, soft spoken and confident
Common excuses shoplifters give when caught :
- “I have no clue how that got into my bag”
- “I planned to pay for it anyway”

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