Security Journal

, Volume 30, Issue 3, pp 772–792 | Cite as

‘Thinking thief’ in the crime prevention arms race: Lessons learned from shoplifters

  • Nicole V LaskyEmail author
  • Bonnie S Fisher
  • Scott Jacques
Original Article


Retailers invest considerable sums of money in security measures designed to prevent shoplifting. However, little is known about shoplifters’ perceptions of anti-shoplifting security measures or shoplifters’ techniques for outmaneuvering them. Building on Ekblom’s recommendation to ‘think thief’ to disengage from the crime prevention arms race, our data consist of in-depth interviews with active shoplifters who simulated shoplifting at two national retail stores while wearing an eye-tracking device. Shoplifters in the present study describe their perceptions of the deterrence potential of specific security measures and the various counter-moves employed to successfully steal merchandise. Implications for ‘thinking thief’ in the retail environment are discussed.


shoplifting eye-tracking device offenders’ perspectives retail security arms race thinking thief 



The authors would like to thank Beau Shine and Jim McCafferty for their assistance with data collection.


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Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicole V Lasky
    • 1
    Email author
  • Bonnie S Fisher
    • 1
  • Scott Jacques
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Criminal Justice, University of CincinnatiCincinnatiUSA
  2. 2.Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State UniversityAtlantaUSA

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