16 Most Popular Items People Steal From Stores

Some items are more popular with shoplifters or easier to steal than others.
Updated April 11, 2024
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retail shoplifting concept

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You may be following the law when you visit your favorite retailer to try and save money shopping, but not everyone is doing the same. 

Stores have always had to face issues with shoplifters, and some face added problems with self-checkout lanes that make it easier to steal.

But which items are the most popular with thieves? Here are 16 common things that go missing without someone paying for them.

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Toilet paper

Olga Miltsova/Adobe toilet paper

Toilet paper may be a necessity even if you don’t have the cash to buy it, which could be one reason why shoplifters choose to take it without paying.

It’s also one of several intimate items that shoppers may be embarrassed to buy so they walk out with it instead.


ronstik/Adobe Assorted makeup

It’s not cheap to look good, so expensive items like makeup may be high on a shoplifter’s list.

They’re also relatively small items so it’s easy to slip them in a pocket without anyone noticing.


Sergey Ryzhov/Adobe woman chooses deodorant

Deodorant is another intimate item that some shoppers may be embarrassed to pay for and decide to skip the check-out lane instead.

Like makeup, deodorant is also easy to slip in a pocket and slip out of the store.

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Small electronics

Chalinee/Adobe Phone chargers

Electronics can get expensive, but some are small so it’s easy to get away with them without paying.

Thieves may target phone charges, earbuds, and other small electronics to take home without paying.

Athleisure wear

Heorshe/Adobe fila store

Comfy clothes are becoming more popular, but being comfortable and fashionable at the same time isn’t cheap.

Athleisure wear like leggings, athletic tops, and other items are popular with thieves who want athletic loungewear without the cost.


BillionPhotos.com/Adobe colorful toys collection

Sometimes you just need something at home for your kids to give them something to do or promise them a purchase so they behave in the store.

But toys may not be in a typical budget in addition to food and household items, which could make it easy to add into a cart but not a receipt.


New Africa/Adobe different elegant bijouterie

Some items may be targeted because of the ease with which they can be lifted from a store.

Jewelry is a great example as small earrings, necklaces, and bracelets are easy to slip in a pocket. Thieves can also slip on jewelry items and walk away without anyone noticing their new bling.

School supplies

chas53/Adobe backpack with school supplies

It can be tough to get everything on your kids’ school supply lists when it comes to paper, pens, crayons, folders, notebooks, and more.

Buying supplies for multiple kids or getting everything on a list can be tricky, which is why it’s tempting for thieves to stock up and perhaps miss a few folders or notebooks when adding things to their bags at the self-checkout lanes.

Intimate clothing

Evgeniya369/Adobe childrens underwear

Underwear can get expensive whether it’s basic cotton bottoms or fancy bras.

It’s also another intimate item that shoppers may rather skip having a cashier ring up and put in a bag, so they decide to steal it instead.

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Pixel-Shot/Adobe stylish bag with accessories

In addition to jewelry, you can pick up plenty of other accessories at retailers like scarves, sunglasses, and more.

Thieves can also pick them up and easily carry them out in pockets or add them to an outfit so they don’t look out of place as they walk away.


New Africa/Adobe different types of batteries

You can get frustrated with remotes, video game controllers, or toys that run out of juice and need batteries.

But batteries are expensive and small, making them a desirable target for shoplifters who want them without paying.


draghicich/Adobe bottles of alcohol drinks

Those little bottles of alcohol can be tempting for thieves to grab and go.

Alcohol may be a common shoplifted item because it can get expensive for some consumers. Others might steal it because it’s against the law for them to purchase alcoholic beverages.

Over-the-counter medication

MP Studio/Adobe shelf in a pharmacy

Medication can get expensive, but sometimes thieves want things regardless of the price tag.

Pain medication may be a common option for shoplifters who need pain relief but can’t afford it, while other medications like laxatives could be embarrassing for consumers to take through the checkout line.

Razor blades

Rojo/Adobe disposable razor blades

Razor blades can be expensive with easy-to-see issues if you have a beard that needs to be cut or trimmed.

Some razor blades may be better suited for more intimate areas, which could make shoplifters more willing to take them rather than pay for them in a checkout lane.

Laundry detergent

New Africa/Adobe laundry detergents

It can be hard to keep your clothes smelling fresh and clean without laundry detergent, which is why it may be one of the most stolen items when it comes to household goods.

Laundry detergent can also be expensive, making it harder to afford to do a load of laundry.


Maksym Yemelyanov/Adobe shopping basket with food

It can be tough to put food on your table, especially when you’re dealing with high prices and want to spend less on groceries.

Food can be an easy item to steal to stay fed and ensure others in your family or group of friends have something to eat.

Bottom line

Mihail/Adobe consumer thiefs hands

While these are popular items to shoplift, the practice of shoplifting is illegal.

Instead, consider creating a budget to find ways to keep more money in your wallet for products you need, and make sure your wallet includes the best rewards credit cards so you can earn extra points or perks to help you save money.

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Author Details

Jenny Cohen Jenny Cohen is a freelance writer who has covered a bit of everything, from finance to sports to her favorite TV shows. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and FoxSports.com.

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