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Retailers Use Social Networking to Catch Thieves

According to the Globe and Mail, shoplifting "accounts for more than a third of retail shrinkage" in Canada. This holiday season; however, the retailers association in Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia are turning to online social networking for help.

The island is home to 147,000 Canadians and they are concerned that shoplifting has become a stunt for bragging rights with the youth of the community. In an interview with CBC News, Paul Carrigan, manager of the Mayflower Mall, said that "shoplifting had become so bad that some people had hired professionals to steal items for them.” Retailers often have names of the offenders but no video or photographs to warn others of their misdeeds - until now.

With the advent of self-promotional sites such as YouTube and Facebook, retailers are seeing greater success in tracking down the criminals. Because of the nature of a social network, often times the perpetrator can be seen on Facebook or YouTube with the same group of friends he/she was shoplifting with earlier. A simple search on YouTube confirmed that plenty of videos exists of thieves getting away with stolen property while friends standby and film.

Because of the popularity of such sites, coupled with the false notion of anonymity on the internet, retailers are now able to place faces to the names. The owners and managers of the association in Cape Breton are actively seeking out these thieves and circulating their picture among their peers. Members of the association are then free to choose whether to ban the person from their stores or not.