While most non-professional shoplifters feel guilty, ashamed
and fearful of getting caught, the excitement they experience
from shoplifting entices them back, again and again. The
excitement of "getting away with it" produces
a chemical reaction which is described as an incredible
"rush" or "high". Many shoplifters say
that this is the "true reward" of shoplifting
rather than the item itself.
A shoplifter's habit or addiction can develop quickly when
a person discovers that the "high" they experience
helps to temporarily relieve such feelings as depression,
frustration, deprivation, anger or boredom. At these times,
people feel the desire to give themselves a reward, a gift
or lift which they feel they need or deserve.
The illustration below shows how, from the moment a shoplifter
targets an item, their tension level rises as they walk
across an emotional tightrope to reach the "high".
Shoplifters who seek temporary relief from unhappiness in
their lives can learn how to get the "high" they
need without shoplifting. Through "offense-specific"
educational programs, shoplifters learn how to substitute
"natural highs" such as shopping, eating out,
reading a good book, playing ball, getting their hair done
or calling a friend. Once shoplifters understand the pressures
which triggered their shoplifting incident and how to get
relief, the chances of repeating the offense typically drops
from 25% to 2%.