Bold shoplifters upset more than your bottom line

September 1, 2019

This post was updated from May, 2015

Fight fire with fire when it comes to shoplifters

According to the Annual Retail Theft Survey,  for every $1 recovered, $11.54 was lost to retail theft! It’s no longer just a candy bar either. The average theft case value in 2018 was $125. Shoplifting is on the rise and it effects more than dollars and cents. Protect your shop and those who enter from the devastation of shoplifting.

Why do people become shoplifters?  

“Shoplifting for most individuals is rarely about greed or poverty. It’s about people struggling with their own personal conflicts and needs,” cites The National Association for Shoplifting Prevention (NASP). Approximately 25% of shoplifters are kids, 75% are adults and 55% of those adults say they began shoplifting in their teens. There is no profile of a typical shoplifter.

The business of Organized Retail Crime (ORC) is responsible for much of the growth of shoplifting. Because of the internet, it’s easier to sell stolen merchandise. Shoplifting is no longer socially unacceptable as it used to be. Plus, shops have reduced the number of employees on their sales floor. Sadly, dishonest employees steal 6 times more than shoplifters.

Stay alert at all times

Shoplifting happens on the inside and from the outsideShoplifting by outside customers accounted for 37% of retail inventory loss, followed by 30% in employee theft, 21% in administrative errors and 5% in vendor fraud. So how can you guard against shoplifting in your resale shop?  Here are a few tips. An article titled, 10 Tips to Prevent Shoplifting, suggests the following:

  1. Greet customers as soon as they enter the shop.
  2. Watch for customers who avoid eye contact. Look for shoppers who seem nervous, wander the store or just linger. If they are constantly looking at store employees, you want to be looking at them.
  3. Employees should regularly walk around the entire store. If they see someone acting suspiciously, approach them. Ask if they need help or offer to hold their items at the counter while they continue browsing.
  4. Restrict the use of fitting rooms. Consider hiring a full-time changing room attendant.

Having an adequate number of employees on the sales floor by staggering breaks and lunch times is key to curbing shoplifting.

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Give your employees the tools they need

In a 2013 article by the National Federation of Independent Business, Bonnie Kallenberg, owner of 3 Finders Keepers consignment shops in Atlanta (and a wonderful SimpleConsign customer) says, “The more you make it evident that you’re aware of and trying to prevent shoplifting, the more shoplifting you’ll discourage.” Kallenberg reveals four tactics she uses to discourage theft. She recommends investing in cameras and a full-time dressing room attendant. Her use of security tags helps too. Plus, she’s trained her staff to be attentive at all times.

Your employees should never accuse someone of stealing or try to physically stop a shoplifter. Always give the person the opportunity to pay for the item they “forgot” to pay for. Ask questions like, “Are you ready to pay for that?” or “Can I ring you up?” Posting signs that say “Shoplifters Will Be Prosecuted” is another way of letting potential shoplifters know you are watching. Shoplifting is a devastating crime affecting not only the shop owner, but their employees and shoppers as well. Be diligent and make sure everyone is aware you’re willing to fight fire with fire.

Deb McGonagle

I have been a writer for various forms of marketing for over 40 years. I've written my share of radio and TV scripts, magazine and newspaper ads as well as direct mail brochures and newsletters. Currently, as the Marketing Director for Traxia, home of SimpleConsign software, I've moved into blog posts, eBooks and website text. It's been an ever changing and ever challenging journey but I've loved it all along the way.