Lots of folks are out shopping for Christmas this year.
But it seems more and more they aren't paying for their holiday finds.
And that's bad.
It's a multi-billion dollar problem. And it affects everyone.
Inflation is pushing up prices this holiday season. But there's no excuse for theft -- or for brushing it off as a minor crime or something stores can just write off to the cost of doing business.
That's because retailers have to make that money back somehow. And that usually means the rest of us will pay more at the checkout to make up for losses due to theft.
Theft can range from organized criminal groups doing large-scale shoplifting down to someone who just can't afford everything they want or need to make the holidays a bit brighter. But it's wrong in any case and a real problem.
Retailers are beefing up security and cracking down of theft. That means more prosecutions where leniency was once the norm.
The professionals shoplifters will do what they do and hopefully police will be able to bring them to justice. But remember these thieves don't do it for fun. They sell much of what they take to "honest citizens" looking for a bargain. We've heard that some folks even have a "personal shoplifter" on speed dial who will steal goods to order.
Buying sketchy goods is not smart nor is it a victimless crime. It's just as bad as stealing from the shelves. Professional thieves could not exist without buyers.
There should be no place under the Christmas tree for stolen goods. But you know that. At least we hope so.
We are more worried about otherwise decent folks feeling the pinch who might do something they wouldn't think of in more prosperous times.
All we can say is Christmas is more about family and feeling than gifts and goods. And even the barest of holidays would be made worse by a trip to the police station and a criminal record.