13+ Strategies to Prevent Shoplifting and Employee Theft

Employee theft and shoplifting result in the loss of millions of dollars annually in the retail sector. About 2% of all US retail sales comprise these losses, also known as shrinkage. Considering the $6.6 trillion in retail sales anticipated for 2021, it is evident that addressing these problems will be vital for the prosperity and sustainable growth of the retail industry.

Loss prevention and asset protection experts have adopted various strategies to address the expanding risks resulting from organized retail crime, growing violent crime, and continuing impacts of COVID-19.

Although I am convinced it is hard to prevent these damages, businesses can use some practical strategies to minimize them. For example, some brands rely on engaging with customers to prevent theft. They greet them, walk with them through the aisles and provide shopping guidance to let them know they are being seen.

What other strategies can work? Let’s see!

Identifying Suspected Shoplifters

First, I want to let you know the literal meaning of shoplifting. It refers to when somebody takes anything from a store without paying for it. It may involve everything from customers stealing on their own to massive-scale organized retail crime. Retailers must educate their staff to recognize suspicious behaviour and set preventive measures into effect to prevent stealing.

Employees play a crucial role in recognizing potential shoplifters. They can recognize suspicious behaviour by paying careful attention and having an eye out. These are a few common indications:

  • Avoiding eye contact: When confronted by employees, shoplifters try to avoid maintaining eye contact with them or acting tensely.
  • Loitering without shopping: Those who wander too long in a store without making a purchase might be possible shoplifters.
  • Frequent departures and entrances: Visitors who repeatedly depart and re-enter the retail space might attempt to steal something.
  • Staying in less crowded and hidden areas: Shoplifters tend to hang out in places where it’s difficult to locate them when they’re hiding the stolen products.
  • A constant eye on the employees and other customers: Those who constantly keep an eye on employees and other customers can search for possibilities to steal. 
  • Hide the stolen items in clothes or bags to avoid detection: Shoplifters often hide stolen products in their clothing/bags.
  • Frequent movements: Individuals who quickly move around the store, especially in and out of fitting rooms, may be attempting to steal.
  • Attempting to distract employees or customers: Shoplifters sometimes work in pairs or groups to divert attention from their accomplices.
  • Trying to draw attention away from staff or customers: Shoplifters usually work in pairs or teams to divert attention from their fellows.

Anti-Shoplifting Training Of Staff

Educate employees on recognizing suspicious behaviour: Give extensive guidance on identifying probable shoplifters and recognizing the common warning signs stated previously.

Set up defined protocols: Develop guidelines for handling cases of suspected shoplifting, such as when to notify law enforcement or involve security staff.

Use role-playing exercises: Conduct mock scenarios where employees can practice approaching and interacting with suspected shoplifters. Please encourage them to share their observations and suspicions regarding potential shoplifting incidents.

Preventive Measures to Deter Shoplifting

  • Store layout and design: Design the store layout to minimize blind spots and maximize visibility. Arrange displays and shelves to ensure clear lines of sight for employees.
  • Surveillance systems: Install a comprehensive surveillance system with strategically placed security cameras to monitor different store areas. Display signs indicating the presence of surveillance cameras to act as a deterrent.
  • Open Communication: Encourage free dialogue between staff members to improve communication.
  • Safety mirrors and signs: To avoid blind spots while offering a more comprehensive view of the store, install convex security mirrors that have been strategically and carefully placed. Set a clear sign alerting people that shoplifting is unlawful and can result in legal action.
  • The Display Arrangements: Consider locking display cases for expensive products, necessitating customers to ask for help if they want to access them. This decreases the chance for shoplifters to steal and hide expensive products fast.
  • RFID and anti-theft tags: Attach RFID or anti-theft tags to costly or quickly stolen items. If not taken off or disabled at the sale spot, these tags set the alarm. Tags trigger an alarm if not removed or deactivated at the point of sale.

Managing Alleged Theft Incidents

  • Maintain eye contact: Make sure that staff keeps eye contact with anybody they always suspect of shoplifting but keep from confronting them.
  • Document the observations: Instruct staff to write down whatever they see, such as the suspect’s physique, conduct, and possible accomplices.
  • Carefully involve security: If security personnel are on hand, approach them so they can keep an eye on what’s going on.
  • Avoid physical disputes: Employees shouldn’t ever attempt to physically confine or confront a potential shoplifter. This might worsen the situation putting everyone at risk.
  • Approach law enforcement: If the alleged shoplifter leaves the store while not paying for the products, contact the police in the area. Hand them the relevant documentation.

Employees Theft Prevention

  • Rigorous hiring procedures: Do background checks on hiring candidates to reduce the probability of recruiting people with a track record of theft.
  • Create a positive work atmosphere: Encourage an environment that promotes open communication, honours staff achievements, and offers fair pay. A happy worker is far less likely to steal.
  • Implement internal controls: Develop and enforce clear policies and procedures related to cash handling, inventory management, and point-of-sale operations. Regularly review and update these controls to adapt to evolving risks.
  • Conduct surprise audits: Perform unannounced audits of cash registers, inventory, and employee personal belongings to deter theft.
  • Promote ethics and integrity: Establish a code of ethics that emphasizes honesty, integrity and the consequences of theft. You should also provide regular ethics training to reinforce these values.

Retailers continue facing difficulties from staff and shoplifting theft, which undermines their revenue and overall success. Retailers can reduce the risks arising from these problems by implementing proactive strategies. Such as staff education, preventive measures, and mindful handling of wary instances.

A secure retail setup that deters theft and ensures an excellent shopping experience for clients can be achieved by combining cutting-edge technology, well-trained staff, and an inviting work atmosphere.