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$6 Billion Mystery Reveals Shoplifting Epidemic

Teens have money to burn Credit: Burning money image via Shutterstock

Shoplifters and dishonest employees stole more than $6 billion from just 24 major retailers last year, according to a new survey.

The survey of 24 large retail companies with a combined 18,518 stores revealed that 1 million shoplifters were apprehended in 2011, up nearly 6 percent from the previous year.

The 24th annual Retail Theft Survey conducted by asset-protection consultant Jack L. Hayes International also found, however, that retailers are doing a better job of recouping some of that stolen money and merchandise.

Nearly $114 million was recovered from arrested shoplifters, up 13 percent from 2010. An additional $37 million in shoplifted goods was salvaged when no apprehension was made, also up more 13 percent from 2010.

Mark R. Doyle, president of Jack L. Hayes International, said the number of shoplifters caught and the recovery dollars have increased eight of the past 10 years.

"The seriousness of retail theft is a much greater problem than many people realize," Doyle said. "These theft losses are driving retail prices higher and putting some stores out of business."

[Caught on Video: Employees Behaving Very Badly]

It's not just shoplifters whom retailers have to guard against, it's also their own staff. On a per company basis, one in every 36 employees was apprehended for theft in 2011.The survey found that more than $47 million was recovered from those 71,505 deceitful employees.

The study was based on surveys of companies across the United States with a combined 2.8 million employees and nearly $600 billion in annual retail sales. Jack L. Hayes did not name the retailers in its announcement of the results.

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance business and technology writer who has worked in public relations and spent 10 years as a newspaper reporter. You can reach him at chadgbrooks@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @cbrooks76.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.