Shoplifting, along with residential burglaries, arson and common robberies is one of the crimes in South Africa that has seen a slight drop in cases.

However, in spite of the drop, it is still one of the most common crimes in the country. According to, it is mostly prevalent where there is a high level of economic activity, such as city hubs. 

Is there a typical shoplifter? Do women shoplift more than men do? In a City Press article, one security guard, Mzwandile Booysen, who has experience working in shops, says theft from stores is widespread and that the culprits range in age from teenagers to adults in their forties.

He says that, "Shoplifters try at all costs to build a relationship with a retail security guard. They will offer you money for cold drink or airtime." This is because they want an easy pass, in case they get caught stealing.

"They come in pairs. One keeps an eye on the security guard. Or they pretend to be buying something and, once the guard moves away, they slip something into their clothing."

In the same article called Confessions of a shoplifter, a woman who admits to being a serial shoplifter says that she is able to pay rent, buy groceries and things her 14-year-old boy needs for school with the money she makes from selling stolen goods. Unfortunately for many, this is a means for survival.

The five worst precincts in the country for shoplifting are 

1. Durban Central

2. Cape Town Central

3. Joburg Central

4. Park Road

5. Mitchells Plain 

And what are the most popular items that get taken? According to The Sowetan, "first it was clothes, then electronic goods and baby formula. Now it's meat." So certain retailers are tagging particularly the expensive cuts.

These are the number of shoplifting cases by province:

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