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SHOPLIFTING-What Retailers Can Do To Prevent Theft

Darrell Smith CFE, ARM, CIM, FCSI

Shoplifters- The National Retail Federation reports that one out of every ten shoppers attempts to shoplift. There are three categories of shoplifters:

1. The average amateur shoplifter who accounts for 75% of the arrests.

2. The full-time amateur shoplifter who accounts for 20% of the arrests.

3. The professional shoplifter who accounts for 5% of the arrests.

Common Characteristics of a shoplifter:

Often carries a bag or backpack into the store.

Appears nervous or startled when approached.

Constantly looks around.

Watches your actions more than anything else.

Bluntly refuses assistance from store personnel.

Is not concerned with the price, size or colour of selected merchandise.

Moves merchandise from one location to another.

Diverts employees' attention while others steal.

Carries own clothing to conceal store merchandise.

Wears clothes that are out of season, such as coats or sweatshirts when its hot outside.

The Amateur Shoplifter: The amateur usually prefers the busier times when the store is full, and customers and employees are occupied. Many amateurs prefer the seclusion of fitting rooms or corners of the store. The amateur's actions are not premeditated, but if an opportunity presents itself, the shopper succumbs to the temptation. This is called "impulse stealing". Since they don't know themselves that they may steal, neither will you and so this makes them difficult to catch.

The Full-time Amateur Shoplifter: These are the people that your employees say, "We know these people steal". These people have a prior history of shoplifting convictions, and account for 20% of those apprehended. They're typically a well-dresses young adult. The difference between these people and the everyday citizen shoplifter is the motive.

The Professional Shoplifter: These are the real "pro's" that make up a small 5% of those that are arrested for stealing. They steal for one reason only, and that's money. The professional likes to work when employees are least alert, and are early bird, lunchtime, shift change, or last minute shoppers. Most of these people work in pairs and are well dressed and, needless to say, well trained. They are also often habitual drug users who support their habit from shoplifting your merchandise.

Shoplifting Prevention Pointers:

Provide good customer service

Speak to the customer when they come in the door

Provide good cash register service, it should be fast and efficient

Teach employees to constantly look around and watch people wandering

Never turn your back on a customer

Pay special attention to display and layout of merchandise. High priced items near the cash register where employees can see them

Install security mirrors

Video cameras

Special locking display cases

The best thing you and your employees can do to prevent theft, is provide exceptional customer service to customers. When shoplifters enter your store, they want privacy. When you acknowledge them and continue to monitor them. They have lost their privacy and will go somewhere else where the staff is not as alert.

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