Most of the people in Florida and around the country who take products from stores without paying for them want the items they steal but lack the means to pay for them. However, people who suffer from kleptomania do so because they cannot stop themselves, and they rarely take items they need and often steal products they do not even want. They do this because the act of stealing and not the item being stolen is what drives their behavior.
A recognized condition
Kleptomania is a mental health disorder recognized by the American Psychiatric Association that is characterized by a strong and persistent urge to steal. More women than men suffer from the condition, and most of them are diagnosed when they are teenagers. The causes of kleptomania are not well understood, but the condition often occurs alongside personality, mood or impulse control disorders. Experts believe that about 1.2 million Americans suffer from kleptomania and fight urges to steal things they do not want or need.
Suffering from kleptomania often leads to interactions with law enforcement and the criminal justice system. Studies suggest that almost 70% of the people who suffer from the condition are arrested for theft at least once, and one in five of them are prosecuted and sent to jail. The retail sector takes kleptomania seriously because the condition accounts for 5% of retail theft and costs the industry about $500 million per year.
Treatment should be the first option
Kleptomania sufferers do not plan to steal and do not try to profit from the crimes they commit. They are driven by urges they cannot control, and they should be treated with compassion when they break the law. Incarcerating people with kleptomania does not benefit society and places an unnecessary burden on the court and correctional systems, so treatment should be the first option in these cases.