How to tackle the elephant in the room…theft.

Theft, in all its forms, is on the rise

Whether its shoplifting, employee theft, cyber theft or organized retail crime, all theft is on the rise. In fact, more than 13 billion dollars worth of merchandise is stolen each year. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), 1 out of 11 Americans shoplift. Habitual shoplifters steal an average of 1.6 times per week and are only caught an average of 1 out of every 48 times they steal. It is an epidemic and as a shop owner, you need to tackle it head on.

How to prevent shoplifting

According to The National Association for Shoplifting Prevention (NASP), shoplifters often do not plan to steal in advance. Almost 75% of both teens and adults made the decision to shoplift once they got into the store. They seized the moment. Curiously, shoplifting may be the only crime they’ve ever committed. So what can you do to make sure the “moment” never comes?

  1. Greet every customer as soon as they enter your store.
  2. Watch for shoppers who avoid eye contact. Pay close attention to those shoppers who wander aimlessly or are constantly looking back at store employees.
  3. Instruct your employees to regularly walk the entire store. If they see someone with merchandise, approach them and ask if they need help or offer to hold their items at the front counter while they continue shopping.
  4. Keep a close eye on your fitting rooms and restrooms.

Different ways for shoplifting theft

How to prevent employee theft

No store owner wants to confront the possibility of employee theft. However, consignment and resale shops are especially vulnerable because the intake of their merchandise is so unusual. There are a lot of opportunities for stealing if the right processes and the right people aren’t put in place.

Employee Theft statistics

  1. Every employee, no matter who it is, should go through a background check. If it’s policy, it isn’t prying.
  2. Always, always, always contact references.
  3. If your state allows, run a credit check. Your state’s Department of Labor or Small Business Association can give you the rules for interviewing employees.
  4. Monitor your register closely.
  5. Set up a specific area where employees check in and out.
  6. Have a POS system that tracks employee information.
  7. Create the right environment. Often, it can be something as simple as listening. Most of the time, employees just want to know someone cares.

 How to prevent cyber theft

Having solid checks and balances in place is the best medicine when it comes to cyber attacks. Read 5 ways to protect your shop online.

  1. Use strong passwords only. Change them regularly.
  2. Consider using anti-virus protection. Our Tech Support like Malwarebytes.
  3. Train your employees. Educate them about the sensitive data your store uses and instruct them to never automatically open email attachments.

The rise of organized theft

Surprisingly, less than 4% of all shoplifting is done by “professionals.” According to Face First, a facial recognition technology solution, robberies and burglaries are up 8.6% from 2016 though. In fact, for larger big box retailers, Organized Retail Crime (ORC) has overtaken employee theft as the #1 cause of inventory shrinkage. Independent retailers (resalers) have not been as affected from ORC, but the problem is growing. ORC members are well trained, beginning with “boosters.” These are the individuals that actually steal. The boosters hand off their items to “fencers” who pay for their stolen goods. The merchandise is then continually sold to a higher level of “fencers” until it reaches its final buyer.

What can you do overall?

There are a number of things you can do to protect your store overall.

  1. Post signs in a number of places that state clearly “We prosecute shoplifters.”
  2. Review your store layout. Have unobstructed exits and increased lighting.
  3. Security cameras are always a good choice.
  4. Keep highly valuable merchandise within a glass case requiring a key.

Cities with the most shoplifting theft

This article has been updated and modified from 2 previous posts How to prevent employee theft from happening to you and Bold shoplifters upset more than your bottom line

Some images and information taken from The Price Gun Store

Bold shoplifters upset more than your bottom line

Fight fire with fire when it comes to shoplifters

According to the Annual Retail Theft Survey,  there are anywhere from 500 to 600 shoplifters stealing every minute! It’s no longer just a candy bar either. The average shoplifted amount is $50. 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

So how can you guard against shoplifting in your resale shop?  Here are a few tips to be prepared. 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.

Give your employees the tools they need

In a 2013 article by the National Federation of Independent Business, Bonnie Kallenberg, owner of 4 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.