Do you know that shoplifting by senior citizens have increased rapidly recently in Japan? Statistics by the National Police Agency (2008) shows that the number of arrests for shoplifting by elderly people aged 65 and older has tripled in the past decade. The number of senior citizens arrested was 8,651 in 1998 and increased to 25,854 in 2008. On the other hand, the number of arrests for shoplifting by adolescents has almost reduced by half in the past ten years. Nevertheless, the number of teenagers arrested was 28,186 and topped the list in 2008, and the total number of arrests for shoplifting last year was 102,504, which is an increase of about 8,000 from 1998. It shows that the problem of shoplifting has not solved yet. We should not understate shoplifting as petty thefts, but should cope with the issue, because shoplifting is a crime. It is my view that the problem can be solved by these three solutions: mental healthcare, the support of public administration, and cooperation of shops.
Firstly, mental healthcare is the most important in order to solve the problem of shoplifting. In my experience as a sales clerk, I think many shoplifters experience mental problems and I have never met any shoplifters who stole because of poverty alone. In fact, a former professor at Showa University of Music was arrested for shoplifting on March 23, when he possessed about 300,000 yen in cash. In addition, the news that a 71-old-year man was arrested for stealing food valued about 3,000 yen in Hokkaido last year surprised people because he possessed approximately 750,000 yen in cash. It is natural to think that all shoplifters do not steal just because of economic problems, and that there are psychological problems are behind a wave of shoplifting by elderly people. In my opinion, it is necessary for everyone to have good relationships with not only their families and friends, but also neighbors to reduce their anxiety, loneliness, and other mental problems. It is also important to create a good environment at home, school, work, and everywhere. In addition, it is helpful to have counseling from experts, such as psychiatrists, social workers, school counselors, and volunteers. Thus, I believe that mental healthcare is essential to combat shoplifting.
Secondly, the support of public administration is necessary to prevent shoplifting. I think that we should not leave garbage, graffiti, and broken windows in the street because such disorderly surroundings exercise malign influences upon people. However, we require entailing expenditure for such activities. Therefore, the government should appropriate more funds for cleanup activities. Moreover, the government should send social workers and caseworkers to people who need help, such as solitary senior citizens, and assign at least one counselor at each public school. Furthermore, in the field of education, teachers should implant that shoplifting is a crime into children because it is very important to nip juvenile delinquency in the bud. Thus, I believe that the support of public administration is essential to prevent shoplifting.
Thirdly, it is hard to fight against shoplifting without cooperation of shops. In fact, they are victims of shoplifting. Probably they have already taken measures to prevent shoplifting, but I think there are some effective actions. For example, they should increase the number of staff instead of downsizing, and educate them not to let their customers become wrongdoers. Staff should call out, help and take care of customers, not be absorbed in displaying merchandise and talking to colleagues, which would reduce loss caused by shoplifting. Moreover, they should check and change the arrangement and height of display racks not to prompt people to steal. In addition, in shopping malls and buildings, they should let security guards patrol with frequency. Thus, I consider that cooperation of shops is also necessary to thwart shoplifting.
Finally, it is obvious that we will not extirpate shoplifting from our society if we try only a simple action. It is necessary to combine three solutions as I mentioned above, that is, mental healthcare, the support of public administration, and the cooperation of shops. We should not regard shoplifting as only a minor matter. Shoplifting is a crime and it might lead to more serious crimes. Hence, I believe that we should wrestle the problem of shoplifting in earnest.