What Retailers Need to Know: Shoplifting 101

In 2016, the average inventory shrink rate increased to 1.44 percent. According to the National Retail Security Survey 2017, shoplifting by outside customers accounted for 37% retail inventory loss, followed by 30% in employee theft, 21% in administrative errors and 5% in vendor fraud. Together this loss accounted for $48.9 billion worth of inventory.

There are Many Ways of Controlling Shrink

Detecting and preventing shoplifting is an important part of any retail establishment. Whether caused by internal or external causes, controlling shrink is one of the most significant factors in controlling expenses. To do this, retailers have several options including employee training, auditing, loss prevention personnel, and loss prevention technologies.

Different Approaches to Address the Problem

Different establishments approach loss prevention differently, largely guided by budget and philosophy. The main focus could be deterrence, detection, or apprehension, and depending on the retailer’s philosophy, the loss prevention strategies utilized and policies instituted will reflect that philosophy.

Cost Effective Loss Prevention Technologies

Loss prevention technologies address every aspect of shrink, from deterrence to detection, and ultimately apprehension. Some of the most cost-effective strategies include CCTV and video surveillance, business intelligence software, and ScanCam. ScanCams helps prevent employee-caused shrink such as barcodes not registering, or making up fraudulent returns.

Quick Tips for Shoplifting Prevention

  • Use video surveillance and CCTV. Visible security deters crime.
  • Greet customers as soon as they enter the store to remove anonymity.
  • Watch for customers who avoid eye contact, seem nervous, wander the store, linger, or exhibit suspicious behavior.
  • Encourage employees to walk the store and talk to customers.
  • Keep the store clean and organized to maintain visibility.
  • Keep commonly stolen items in plain view.
  • Do not under-staff.
  • Eliminate employee distractions.
  • Post warnings in dressing rooms or bathrooms.

Stopping a Patron

Shoplifting laws allow retailers to stop and detain a person who has stolen merchandise. To do this properly in a way that can lead to prosecution requires following proper protocol.

  1. The employee must see the customer enter the area where the subject item is displayed.
  2. The employee must see the customer select and pick up the item.
  3. The customer must see the customer conceal, carry, push or pull the item from its location.
  4. The employee must maintain uninterrupted observation of the customer from the original location of the item to the point of detention.
  5. The employee must see that the patron failed to pay for the item.
  6. The shoplifter must be approached outside the store or after the last point of sale.

By properly addressing shoplifting with the right tools and strategies, a retailer can effectively reduce shrink. S-Tron has over 20 years of uncompromising experience in helping retail establishments reach their security goals.

Everett Cope

Director of Sales at S-TRON Security
S-Tron provides superior security systems project management during implementation and dedicated service management after installation for retail and hospitality companies nationwide.