Detecting & Preventing Theft in Retailers

Posted By: Team Moody,

Shoplifters cost retailers about $13 billion in lost revenues every year, and that’s just in the United States. As a retail store owner, it would be wise to strategize ways for preventing theft from occurring and minimize the losses and damages they cause.

How to identify potential thieves and shoplifters

The first step toward identifying potential thieves and shoplifters is to know their methods. It would also help to understand the different types of criminals to become familiar with their habits. When you know what to look for, it will be easier to pick them out in a crowd.

Shoplifters typically conceal their actions or the items they are stealing using accessories, clothing, and even their own bodies. There are instances when thieves will grab the merchandise they are after and run out of the store. But these incidents aren’t as common as criminals acting casually and hoping to go undetected.

An oversized coat in hot weather is often a giveaway that the individual is up to no good. Some may carry a large bag or several smaller ones to hold the items they steal. Although having a single small purse is normal, someone with a large bag or several smaller bags should arouse suspicion.

Would-be thieves will often pay close attention to store employees. They may also walk in the opposite direction of store workers and change locations within the store in response to employee movements.

Another visual cue to look out for is picking up unrelated merchandise at random and returning them to the shelves. Shoplifters will also often take more than one item into the dressing room or knock over displays to distract employees.

Theft and shoplifting prevention practices

Effective store management is essential for smooth and efficient workflow, customer satisfaction, and maximum profitability. But it could also be an effective deterrent against thieves and shoplifters. By optimizing your store’s layout, keeping track of your inventory, and employing proper security practices, you could reduce shoplifting incidents and even avoid them entirely.

When planning your store design, try to reduce the number of places that could be used to conceal stolen merchandise or criminal activity. Ideally, all store areas should be visible to at least one or two store employees. Apart from eliminating possible places for shoplifters to hide their actions, this will also improve your workers’ ability to provide effective customer service.

If you aren’t doing so already, you might consider implementing proactive customer service. This involves always having store personnel close by and ready to engage customers at a moment’s notice. This in itself could be enough to stop potential shoplifters in their tracks.

Everyone has come across as overly ‘helpful’ or pushy floor staff on occasion. Admittedly, it can be annoying to have someone standing close by every time you pick an item off the rack. But this is a small price to pay to prevent the loss of goods or other criminal activity.

Theft-prevention policies for retailers

Apart from preventive action, it would also be beneficial to implement effective theft-prevention policies. Most of these involve instructing workers on what to do when shoplifting incidents occur.

When developing shoplifting policies, some of the most important factors to take into consideration are:

  • How employees will approach suspected shoplifters
  • How the confrontation will occur
  • Who to call in response to a shoplifting incident
  • Documentation of the incident and the information it should contain

The time to develop theft and shoplifting prevention policies is early on during the business planning stage. Unfortunately, many store owners neglect to implement such policies hoping that such incidents will never occur in their establishments.

But criminal activities can and do occur every day. It is always better to have the necessary policies and never need them than to be caught off-guard when something untoward happens.

It would also be beneficial to train employees on the proper procedures for dealing with theft and shoplifting incidents. They should be able to act methodically and not be driven by anger or emotion.  Thorough training will help ensure a more favorable resolution when a crime takes place.

Theft and shoplifting are real concerns that are almost always beyond the control of store owners and personnel. Knowing how to identify potential criminals and dealing with them will help reduce the financial and physical damage they might otherwise cause.

A retail insurance policy will help keep your valuables covered.

About Moody Insurance Worldwide

Moody Insurance Worldwide, a division of Moody & Associates that was founded in 1914, is a leading provider of risk management programs and insurance coverage to individuals and businesses across the East Coast. We write all sizes of businesses, with technical expertise in many key industry areas, and provide personal insurance programs for estates and high net worth individuals. Our licensed, experienced commercial account managers can work with you to determine the coverage that you need at a competitive rate. Contact us today at (855) 868-0170 to learn more about what we can do for you.