Epidemiology and course

Although kleptomania is presumed to be rare, its prevalence is unknown. Available studies suggest that only a small portion of shoplifters (from none to 8 per cent) represent true cases of kleptomania/17 However, it has been argued that these rates may be spuriously low because psychiatric evaluations may not have always been sufficiently thorough, operational diagnostic criteria were rarely used, and kleptomania may have been under-represented in the samples due to selection bias (i.e. people with repeated apprehensions were more likely to be legally rather than psychiatrically referred). Also, kleptomania is a secret disorder (i.e. afflicted people hide their symptoms).

Kleptomania is probably more common in women than in men.(1Z) Many cases begin in adolescence or early adulthood, and often follow an episodic or a chronic course.

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