What You Can Count On when Shoplifting happens.
There are several things you can count on about almost all shoplifters and knowing these things will help to guide your actions:
1. Shoplifters don’t want to get caught … so it follows that shoplifters should not get the feeling of being completely safe from detection in your store.
2. If caught, they don’t want to be prosecuted … so it is therefore important to develop strict prosecution guidelines for your company.
3. Most shoplifters prefer to be left alone and remain as inconspicuous as possible … so one of the more important things employees can do is let every customer know (by frequent acknowledgement) that the store is aware of their presence.
4. A shoplifters decision to conceal an item in the store is not a commitment to keep that item. If the shoplifter does not feel safe before leaving the store, (s)he will either “ditch” the item or buy it. Therefore, the store manager and employees should be aware that there are many different actions by the store that can influence a shoplifters decision not to complete the theft … even after concealment.
5. Shoplifters always look around for security measures . . . so it follows that the presence of security measures will signal the warning that the stor e may not be an easy mark.
6. If a shoplifter gets what he came for … he’ll be back.
What Actions Encourage Shoplifters To Steal In Your Stores?
Since the majority of shoplifters are non-professional adults, what are the most common factors which may invite these people into your stores or may suddenly tempt them to steal?
• When store employees appear to be disinterested or too busy to pay attention to customers.
• Where there is no evidence of security personnel who may be watching.
• When there are no security devices such as EAS, chains or alarms attached to desirable items.
• When there are high fixtures, secluded corners, access to unattended fitting rooms, rest rooms or dark corridors where concealment is made easy.
• When there is an abundance of merchandise not tagged with EAS tags, even if the store has an EAS system.
• When a guard at the door does not appear to be alert, is not checking receipts and is not threatening to the shoplifter in any way.
• When they are not acknowledged or serviced and can remain inconspicuous.
Juveniles who shoplift are also influenced by the above factors but unlike adults who most typically shoplift alone, kids usually shoplift rarely has any kind of communication with others who steal, juveniles are heavily influenced by the comments of their friends who may label your stores as an “easy mark” or advise their friends that your store doesn’t prosecute … “especially of you cry”.
“Professional” adult shoplifters (those who steal for resale), are also influenced by all the factors mentioned above and, like juveniles, often steal with friends and have access to a “shoplifting grapevine” regarding ease of theft and likelihood of prosecution. Additional factors which will tempt the professional shoplifter to target your stores include:
• Easy access to merchandise which is easily “fenced” or sold on the street, especially if more expensive merchandise.
• An EAS system which is easy to defeat because the tags are easy to remove, there are no salespeople or guards around the exit to notice someone leaving or the system is not
• Easy to get a cash refund, especially without a receipt, for any number of items and for any dollar amount.
• Easy to duplicate a receipt (“counterfeit”) by home computer or colour photocopy, and obtain a cash refund.
• Expensive/desirable merchandise near store exits with no salespeople or guard in the area, for an easy ‘grab and run’. Although any shoplifter who is determined to steal from your stores may be able to do so, few shoplifters want any unnecessary hassle and most are unwilling to risk detection when employees are attentive vs. disinterested, when security measures which help cause the shoplifter to feel uncomfortable about stealing in your stores, retailers can discourage shoplifters from targeting their stores, or if they do happen to come by, quickly discourage them from coming back.
Actions Which Discourage Shoplifters From Targeting Your Store
The modern business practice of displaying goods to the potential customer in a very accessible and tempting way unfortunately attracts thieves and potential thieves of all ages and from all walks of life. Losses from stolen merchandise are now a serious problem and the days are past when any store proprietor can afford to be lenient with theft. You can, however, do a great deal to protect yourself, taking steps to prevent shop theft. This is preferable to actual detection and arrest of the criminals concerned.
Lay-out of shop
• Remove obstructions – arrange displays to obviate blind spots. Staff can supervise better.
• Place large mirrors about the store. This is a psychological and physical deterrent. Staff see into blind spots. One-way glass is also useful.
• Provide baskets and trundlers. Display signs asking for these to be used. This makes a quick check-out of customers much easier.
• SUPERVISE the shop. Encourage free staff to move about.
• Thread nylon, fine wire of tape loosely through handles and other articles, to allow examination but prevent removal.
• A chain or rail should be placed in such a way so as to channel customers past check-out counters.
• Install an EAS system in the store.
• SUPERVISE the staff. Leave them in no doubt as to the management’s feelings on dishonesty.
• Every store should hold regular staff briefings on shoptheft prevention and the proper way to apprehend suspects. Staff should also be encouraged to question the management at any time if they need information about accepted procedures in their particular store. It is also important that management makes sure all new staff are fully briefed.
Particular points for large shops
• Employ personnel for the sole purpose of detecting offenders. This acts as a deterrent to thefts by customers and by employees.
• Closed circuit television or similar security equipment. This allows for greater supervision, surveillance and control of goods, and its mere existence is a very great deterrent.
• Staff play a very important part in combating shop stealing and should be trained accordingly. Some large department stores are using training films from overseas for this purpose. Emphasis should be on preventive action rather than detection.
General advice for staff
• Give customers prompt attention as soon as they enter the shop.
• When customers take articles into fitting rooms be sure to collect each article after use.
• Don’t leave empty coat-hangers on racks. An empty one indicates that an article has been removed.
• Stolen clothing can be worn when leaving fitting rooms: so too can articles worn on the wrist or fingers.
• Thieves may carry an imitation box or parcel into which articles can be placed through a slit or loose flap.
• Two or more shoppers together – one may be trying to attract your attention away from the other(s).
• People who place bags on the floor while sorting through racks – articles may be dropped into the bag.
• People who carry a large package – they may hide a stolen item between themselves and the package.
• Items slipped into rolled umbrellas.
• The woman with a pram who may fuss over the baby and drop goods beneath blankets or mattress.
• Groups of children who loiter around counters containing sundry items. Many children regard ‘shoplifting’ as a game.
Have a warning system
Have some system for warning staff when you are observing a thief. This enables Police to be called immediately if you require them. Advise the Police: let them do the necessary interviewing, searching and arresting. If the offender decamps, note his description, direction of travel, and the number of any vehicle he may be in. If possible follow and watch that nothing is thrown away.