How to tackle the elephant in the room…theft.

November 21, 2017

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

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 Coordinator 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.