Retail Shoplifting. Woman Stealing In Supermarket. Theft

These Are Stores' Most-Stolen Items

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Retail Shoplifting. Woman Stealing In Supermarket. Theft

The Five-Finger Discount

A recent bust of an organized theft ring in California that recovered $135,000 in merchandise stolen from Macy's, Columbia, and Lululemon stores spotlights an issue retailers have long struggled with: theft. We're not talking about teens slipping a pack of gum into their pockets, but increasingly organized crime rings where thieves make big bucks by reselling stolen goods. According to a survey from the National Retail Federation, the following items have emerged as favorite targets — and some of them might surprise you. 

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Baby Milk Formula and Baby Bottles
Antihistamine medication or allergy drug concept photo. On doctor table is pack with word
liquor store
Bill Oxford/istockphoto

Expensive Liquor

It's no surprise that the "good stuff" is frequently pilfered from store shelves, with another 13% of retailers saying high-end alcohol is a favorite of thieves. 

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Small Electronics

Laptops and Tablets

Pricey electronics are also cited as a major theft target by 13% of retailers. The CEO of Best Buy, Corie Barry, recently made headlines by saying workers are "traumatized" by increasingly brazen theft in her stores, and she has pledged to lock up more products and hire more security to combat the problem. 

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Deodorant stick


Believe it or not, a slightly larger percentage of retailers — 15% — cite deodorant as a frequently stolen item. Like formula and over-the-counter meds, it's easy to resell since it's always in demand, and it's just the right size for slipping into a bag or purse.

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Luxury handbags
Grosescu Alberto Mihai/istockphoto
Tide Laundry Detergent
Tide Laundry Detergent by Mike Mozart (CC BY)

Laundry Detergent

Maybe somewhat surprisingly, 21% of retailers say laundry detergent is a frequently stolen item. The Atlantic has even detailed the brazen theft of this "liquid gold" — in particular, Tide — saying that it can be resold or even fraudulently returned for an easy buck. 

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Woman's Hands Selecting Cloths in Fashion Store

Designer Clothing

No surprise here: Flashy designer duds are the No. 1 most-stolen item, with 34% of retailers reporting a problem keeping them on the racks. 

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Smartphone's on the counter of a electronics store

Other Frequently Stolen Items

Retailers also report issues keeping these items in stock, according to the NRF:

  • Jeans (11%)
  • Cigarettes (10%)
  • Teeth-whitening strips (10%)
  • Contraceptives (10%)
  • Cell phones (8%)
  • Energy drinks (7%)
  • High-end vacuums and appliances (5%)