The psychiatric, psychosocial and medicolegal variables of 50 shoplifters and two comparison groups are described. The shoplifters were found to be an almost identical population when compared to general, (non-forensic) psychiatric outpatients, and differed significantly from a comparison group of general forensic patients excluding shoplifters. A high level of psychosocial stress antedating the shoplifting behaviour was a significant finding. A profile of a typical shoplifter referred for psychiatric examination is a 37 year old married female person, employed at the professional end of the occupational spectrum, who is suffering from a depressive neurosis and who steals an item of insignificant value or use to herself. The psychiatric diagnostic profile supports the lenient legal disposition by the courts.