How to Handle or Prevent a Shoplifting Incident

Shoplifting costs retailers over $13 billion every year. That’s why it’s important to ensure that your staff is well-trained in ways to reduce shoplifting losses. Here are some important shoplifting prevention strategies to teach your employees.

Be alert for bad behavior

Often, shoplifters have tell-tale signs that can help your staff identify them. A few of the behaviors that can sometimes indicate shoplifting:

  • constantly watching store employees and other shoppers
  • leaving and returning to the store repeatedly, often without buying anything
  • appearing nervous
  • avoiding eye contact
  • spending excessive time wandering the store

Organize for safety

A store that is dirty or disorganized signals that your employees are not paying attention; keep the store clean and neat to discourage shoplifters. Choose low displays and shelves so it is easy for employees to monitor the store. Consider displaying items that are frequently stolen in plain sight.

Make sure you have enough people on every shift

Thieves know that they are less likely to be caught stealing when stores are busy and employees are overwhelmed. During holiday seasons or special events and sales, consider scheduling more employees so that your team can keep an eye on shoppers and provide excellent service.

Train employees in the best anti-shoplifting methods

Create an anti-shoplifting policy and discuss it with employees. Offer training so they know what to do if they encounter a shoplifter. Larger stores often have dedicated loss prevention personnel; but for smaller stores, loss prevention often falls to all employees. Make sure your employees are trained on your business’ policy.

Encourage employees to greet each customer who enters the store. Have them approach people who have been wandering around without making a purchase. Make sure they keep an eye on people who are in the store, and do not leave the floor unless another employee is present.

Use anti-theft technology

Security cameras are among the best anti-theft technology. Most shoplifters will not shoplift when there is a camera within their view. Bright lighting can eliminate shadowy blind corners that shoplifters might use to hide their actions. And Anti-theft tags can alert you if someone attempts to remove merchandise from the store.

What to do if you do find a shoplifter in your store

Sometimes, despite your actions to decrease shoplifting in your store, people will try it anyway. If someone on your staff encounters a shoplifter, use these tips provided by the Los Angeles Police Department:

  • Call security. Never directly confront the individual.
  • Give them a chance to pay for the item. Casually ask if they are ready to pay for the item or if you can ring them up. Assuming that they “forgot” can sometimes convince them to make the purchase.
  • Do not try to physically stop a shoplifter. This can add liability that can be more expensive than the lost products.
  • If the shoplifter leaves the store, provide security or the police with a detailed description.

Most stores will never be able to eliminate 100 percent of their inventory shrinkage from shoplifting. However, using these and other anti-shoplifting tips can help you cut down on the incidence of shoplifting in your store and help reduce lost profits.

Check out shoplifting blogs on Tumblr

Believe it or not, the micro-blogging website Tumblr has an active community of users who exchange tips publicly on the best stores for shoplifting and the sneaky methods they use to steal without getting caught. These tips can be seen under tags like “shoplifting tips,” “lifting,” and “liftplay.” By studying the methods discussed, you may become better prepared to counter them.

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Want to learn more about security camera systems and how they can fit into your loss prevention plan? Read our Guide to Commercial Security CamerasOr click below to get a free, custom quote.

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