What is shoplifting?
Theft from a retail store usually with less than a $500 value simply intending to deprive the owner of those items is considered shoplifting, Also known as five finger discounts, boosting and stealing.
Small business is the backbone of our economy; Small businesses have tight margins and Shoplifting affects any company’s bottom line. Depending on your operating profit margins, you may need to sell 20 dollars in merchandise to cover a 2 dollar theft.
Many people do not realize that the cost of goods increases when retailers deal with bottom line losses due to theft.
Shoplifters can be anyone; kleptomaniacs -are people with a psychological compulsion, Drug addicts- often desperate to support expensive habits. There are professional shoplifters that target expensive items and have tricks to try and defeat security measures. Youths are common shoplifters doing it for fun or challenging others to see who can steal more.
Some simple techniques that a shoplifter may use a large open bag, leave it at their feet and simply drop items in. Baby strollers are great tools as items can be easily hidden in blankets or even the baby’s clothes. And watch for those rainy day umbrellas, hung over an elbow can be ideal for dropping in small items. Baggy clothing is used as easy to hide items; some more regular shoplifters even have extra pockets sewn into their coats and jackets. Be aware of customers with large coats who keep their hands in a coat pocket, some actually cut slit in the lining so they can reach items unnoticed.
A more brazen approach that is sometimes used is simply to grab stuff and walk out the door, relying on gullibility or slow response times of sales clerks. Garments are grabbed and run off with taking several items at once, A great little trick is to alternate the direction of some hangers, creating a lock up if multiples are grabbed.
Shoplifters sometimes work in groups, entering your store and separating making it difficult to watch all of them, or one of them will distract your staff to allow the others an open window. Do your best to always have a minimum of two people on staff at all times.
Large items get carried out of the store unnoticed; make it a policy that all large items must get your staff’s assistance.
8 Tips to help Derail the Five-Fingered Discount
- Training-Train yourself and your staff to greet customers as they come in, if you have customers in the store looking around, ask them if they need any assistance, this lets a potential shoplifter know that you have acknowledged their presence.
- Store Layout– place the cash near the entrance and greet the customers, good lighting inside and outside the store, wide aisles, mirrors and low shelving help you see what is happening in your establishment.
- Know your prices- important to know your products prices to know if someone has changed the tags.
- Distractions- do not allow distractions; a customer may draw you aside to distract you or your staff while their accomplice, left unattended, steals your merchandise.
- Set up items to make it difficult for thieves- use empty packages for displays, display heavy bulky items near the back of the store. Expensive items should be kept away from windows and doors.
- Valuable items– keep them in locked display cases; remember to relock the display every time.
- Video Surveillance-Have high quality video surveillance monitoring the front doors, cash area, and all aisles, be sure to review your cameras on a regular basis, making sure good quality image, no obstructions. Even consider having a monitor right at the door so they can see themselves entering the store.
- Review- make it a policy to review your security policy on a regular bases, train your staff, speak with your neighboring business, and talk with Police departments to get their suggestions.