The Top 10 Most Commonly Shoplifted Items in Retail

A recent New York Post article shined a light on a crew of shoplifters who were targeting very specific electronic items from retail locations. The mastermind behind the operation, a Manhattan crook who called himself “The General,” organized a military-like theft ring that had been ripping off stores like Best Buy and Staples for years. The General gave his crew special vests with hidden pockets to stash HP and Epson ink cartridges, Bose QuietComfort 35 headphones, Nikon Coolpix digital cameras and Fitbit bracelets, according to The Post.

This is the exact type of information that retailers can learn from; as this story reveals what these burglars sought after most. We have combined the information that we gleaned from these burglars with professional security recommendations, along with our own research, in order to help retailers best protect their stores. Below we have listed the top 10 most commonly shoplifted items in retail, and combined them with our professional security advice for an all-encompassing approach to retail security.

Ink Cartridges

As we saw with the professional crime ring above, ink cartridges are a big time target for professional burglars. As evidenced by this story from a local Utah TV news station about three California men who stole thousands of dollars worth of ink cartridges in Utah to bring them back to California and sell them on the black market, the substance is in high demand for criminals. The three were caught thanks to an Office Depot security officer who tipped off police. Office Max officials say that more than $10,000 in ink was stolen from their stores alone.

According to the Daily Record, a trio attempting to steal hundreds of dollars worth of Red Bull energy drinks was stopped and found with drug paraphernalia in Riverdale, New Jersey. According to police, they entered a Walmart and loaded a shopping cart with $160 worth of Red Bull and then walked out of the store without paying for them. Red Bull, and other energy drinks, have been highly targeted by burglars in recent years because of their high demand and re-sell value.

High End Headphones

Because of the rise in popularity of high end headphones like Bose and Beats by Dre, these items have been targeted by burglars. In March of last year, according to The LA Times, an estimated $250,000 worth of high-end headphones were stolen from a Costa Mesa, California warehouse. The burglars cut a hole into a warehouse and walked away with more than 100 pairs of headphones that retail at $1,000-$2,000 each. Authorities warn people who shop online to beware of stolen goods like this that may appear on Amazon, eBay, Craigslist and other outlets.

The Top 10 Most Commonly Shoplifted Items in Retail


The Manhattan crime ring referenced in the opening was a fan of stealing Fitbits, and it appears other burglars are too. The items have been known to be targeted by burglars because of their small size and high re-sell value. A trio of North Carolina college students were caught stealing Fitbits from a Wal-Mart by police, according to Inforum. There are instances like this that occur all over the nation, like these two in Tennessee and Georgia. As you’re probably starting to notice, small size and high re-sell value are two very attractive qualities for thieves.


Razors have been known to be a target of burglars for years now, as evidenced by their locked up displays at most stores. In a humorously entitled Chicago Tribune article, “Rash of razor, razor blade thefts linked to black market, not a need to shave, police say” we see another instance of items being resold on the black market. Stores like Walgreens and CVS are often targeted, especially when deliveries are being made.

Baby Formula

As The New York Post wrote, “there’s a thriving black market for baby formula” and the newspaper highlighted a recent string of arrests in Utah where three people were accused of stealing thousands of dollars’ worth of baby formula in the latest example of a problem that is now considered a nationwide problem by police all over the country. Thieves have been known to systematically swipe the mixture from shelves and resell it to unsuspecting parents on the black market.


Because of the small size of most forms of makeup, and yes, their re-sellability, makeup is targeted by criminals. In February, two people were caught stealing makeup from a Glassboro, NJ CVS location, according to The same thing happens on college campuses across the country as women with low budgets pilfer makeup from convenience stores.

Alcoholic Beverages

Alcohol, as many know, is one of the most classically stolen items from convenience stores. There are stories all over the internet from South Carolina to New Hampshire about alcohol burglaries from convenience stores across the country. These burglaries are typically made by alcoholics and black market re-sellers once again.


Clothing, especially brand name and high-end clothes, are often targeted by burglars in department stores. As reported by Arkansas Online, thousands of dollars worth of merchandise was stolen from a secondhand clothing store in Little Rock; which just goes to show that any clothing store is vulnerable to burglary. The location was a Plato’s Closet and the manager came into work one morning only to realize that a window had been broken into and about $3,000 in clothing had been taken. The business’ burglary alarm was not set off during the incident.


As recently reported by Vice, Heroin addicts in big cities have been stealing meat from supermarkets. One of their reporters followed along as a thief stole two joints of beef, 2 packs of chicken breasts and four beef steaks stuffed into his coat and trousers. Then, all he had to do was walk around to a corner garage and sold the meat for cash in order to buy drugs.

All of these incidents highlight how important it is for retail locations to install a security system with a professional provider. Supreme offers burglar alarm systems that are custom designed & monitored from our own UL-Listed, TMA Certified Alarm Monitoring Center. No matter how complex or sophisticated the threat to your business, Supreme can design and build a system to meet your precise needs and requirements. Our comprehensive line of burglary offerings include: motion detection; perimeter protection; glassbreak detection; video verification and remote notification via email or app.

Contact us to learn more about retail security solutions.