The other day, I was waiting in line at the Dollar General in Absecon, and people in line got into a discussion with the cashier.

The cashier mentioned that the store had a high incidence of shrinkage (shoplifting), and they were powerless to do anything about it.

I remember standing in that store a few months ago and watching as a man filled a bag with stuff from the store and walked out.  As I watched, the cashier told me, "That happens all the time."

Recently, a reader sent me a message about the Dollar Tree in Atlantic City.

Shoplifting Hurting Atlantic City Community

The store, located at the end of the Atlantic City Expressway on Christopher Columbus Blvd, once a beautiful store fully stocked with essential needs for those in the community, is now full of empty shelves.

Merchandise that remains, is marked down 50 percent.  When the reader inquired to the manager about this, they were told the company was shutting the store because people were stealing too much.

This is a story that's all too common in New Jersey.

The Cost of Shoplifting in NJ

According to CapitalOne Shopping Research, retailers in New Jersey lost over 2 billion dollars in revenue to theft in 2022.

The same report estimates retailers also lost 2.5 billion dollars in return fraud, bringing total losses to close to 5 billion dollars.

Retailers aren't the only ones who lose.  The state loses an estimated 320 million dollars in sales tax dollars, and that impacts all of us.

Penalty for Shoplifting in NJ

The penalty for shoplifting, according to Lustberg Law Offices for merchandise under $200 is a $1,000 fine and/or 6 months in jail.

Shoplifting more than $200 and less than $500 can result in 3-5 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $15,000.

The often-overlooked consequence of rampant shoplifting is that communities like Atlantic City have a difficult time attracting and maintaining retail outlets that are so desperately needed.

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Reader's Digest compiled a list of items you should avoid purchasing at the dollar store. These are the top 10.

Gallery Credit: Ben & Patty Show

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Gallery Credit: Steve McKay/Townsquare Media