'Tis the season!
As everyone scurries about making their last-minute purchases, stores ought to be on the lookout for shoplifters. As AP reported today, shoplifting is rampant this time of year -- and is happening more in 2011 than it did in 2010.
In the month leading up to Christmas, shoppers will steal about $1.84 billion in merchandise, up from about $1.7 billion last year, according to a Global Retail Theft Barometer survey.
Shoplifting, of course, isn't unique to this time of year. According to the National Association of Shoplifting Prevention, about one in 11 Americans shoplift. But when the stores get crowded around the holidays and the pressure to buy builds, walking out without paying becomes even more common.
And the things people steal become a little more specific and holiday-related. Previously AdWeek noted that the most commonly snatched items include "luxury meat" like filet mignon, expensive liquor, fragrance like Chanel No. 5 and "designer" apparel like Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger (we're guessing less mainstream labels like Thakoon or The Row are not snatched nearly as often).
If you're going to have yourself a big steak and a spritz of $100 perfume, we suppose this would be the time to indulge. But stealing not only is wrong, it also feeds the downward spiral of the economy. For retailers, the holiday season is literally the most wonderful time of the year, when shoppers empty their pockets and get the economy churning.
Yet when millions of people take that Polo by Ralph Lauren shirt instead of paying for it, a total of $1.84 billion is lost, not gained. And that doesn't help the economy -- and by extension, shoppers -- at all.
The one upside? We can take comfort in knowing that at least Americans aren't the ones with the stickiest fingers. Even with the rise of shoplifting this year, the U.S. is still outpaced by countries like Russia, India and Thailand as the most shoplifting-crazy cities in the world.
Below, check out the cities where shoplifting is the highest. Then go shopping -- and remember to actually pay for your stuff.
Note: No one in the photos below are actually shoplifting (as far as we know)!
Shoppers exit a Walmart store on March 29, 2011 in Valley Stream, New York.
Customers shop at a vegetable market in downtown Kuala Lumpur on August 18, 2011.
A Muslim Turkish woman walks past a store in Cizre, a district of Sirnak province, 13 November 2007, near the Turkish-Iraqi border, south-eastern Turkey.
A shop owner sells her wares in a flooded street near Don Muang Airport on November 11, 2011.
A woman watches the toys on display in a store in Mexico City, on January 5, 2010.
The entrance to a branch of the Pao de Acucar supermarkets in Copacabana, Rio de janeiro, Brazil, on july 4, 2011.
Customers make their way to the tills at MAKRO megastore in Milnerton on the outskirts of Cape Town, on September 28, 2010.
Casablanca, MOROCCO: Two Moroccan women taste some bananas at a fruit and vegetables shop as the vendor looks on, in Hay Farah district, in Casablanca, 11 April 2007.
A Moscow shop assistant works on December 2, 2011, amidst TV screens during the broadcast of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's address to nation on the upcoming Parliamentary election.
Shopkeeper waits for the customers at his shop on the old quarters of New Delhi on December 7, 2011.