Retail theft is a big problem and getting worse. Regardless of how successful you are in providing your customers with the best selection of merchandise at the right price, your business can be crippled by theft if you haven’t taken proper precautions. Be sure you’ve taken the following steps to protect your store.

Be Proactive Rather Than Reactive

  • Arrange store aisles and shelves to avoid blind spots.
  • Ensure customers have to pass the cash register to exit the store.
  • Greet customers to convey that employees are aware of what’s happening in the store.
  • Maintain adequate staffing.
  • Create signals for staff to alert each other.
  • Never leave an unlocked cash register unattended.
  • Place expensive items close to cash registers or in enclosed display cases.
  • Install video cameras to provide full coverage of the store interior and exterior, such as the entrance and parking lot. Technology is very affordable now, especially compared to the cost of stolen merchandise. The mere presence of cameras will discourage shoplifting and can be invaluable in identifying and prosecuting offenders.
  • Use mirrors to cover blind spots.
  • Post warning signs that store management will prosecute theft.
  • Set and enforce store policies in regard to bags being allowed in store.
  • Train employees to watch for telltale signs of theft.
  • Conduct thorough background checks on employees before hiring (as local, state, and federal laws permit).
  • Maintain frequent close checks on inventory versus sales. If cross-references show ongoing discrepancies, your store is likely experiencing systemic customer and/or employee theft.
  • Develop legally compliant policies for staff to handle shoplifting incidents safely and diplomatically, including confronting suspected shoplifters, alerting authorities, and minimizing disruption.

 Be Familiar With Common Shoplifting Strategies

  • Shoplifters may operate alone, but often work in groups to distract employees. They may grab and run for the door but more often try to hide merchandise in their clothes, purses, umbrellas, strollers, or shopping bags.
  • Watch for price tag switching. Invest in tags that aren’t easily removed.
  • Watch suspicious behavior closely, focusing on eyes and hands.

The effort and expense you invest in preventing and prosecuting theft will be offset by the decrease in merchandise loss. It can make the difference between staying in business and being forced to close your doors.