Guest Author - Vance R. Rowe
Shoplifting costs retail establishments billions of dollars each year and we, the consumer, have to pay for this by paying more for the stuff we buy. Shoplifting hurts everyone. It's not just shoppers who commit retail theft either. Employees are responsible for “shrinkage” as well. Shrinkage is what retail businesses refer to as shoplifting losses.
There are ways to prevent shoplifting, maybe not completely, but can cut it down a great deal, if not altogether. Post signs visible that tell people shoplifters will go to jail. Make cameras visible to shoppers, even if they are faux cameras. A lot of retail businesses cannot afford security systems, so some will put up fake cameras as a deterrent. Stores must prosecute thieves because if they don't, the stores will get a reputation as not prosecuting thieves, making them a mark for shoplifters. I worked as a mall security guard for several years and there is nothing more frustrating than stores saying that they do not want to prosecute. This is mainly because store managers or employees do not want to take time off from work to go to the police station to sign a complaint or sit in a court room waiting for the case to go in front of the judge.
Sometimes a group of shoplifters will go into a retail store and steal them blind. We called them gypsies because they traveled in packs and everyone had a specific job. Some would distract clerks, some would keep an eye out for security while others actually did the stealing. Vigilance is a strong deterrent to shoplifting. Some shoplifters aren't even sneaky. Some just smash and grab. They will smash display cases, grab what they can and run out the door to a waiting vehicle. Some go in, grab a bunch of clothes off of a rack and run out the door. This can be prevented by turning every other clothes hanger the other way. If your store has a uniformed security guard, make sure he is visible in the store. This is a big deterrent to potential shoplifters. A lot of stores now are counting clothes before someone takes them into a dressing room to try them on.
Know how to spot a shoplifter. Shoplifters are constantly looking around and/or acting nervous. They wander aimlessly through the store and often hang out in areas that are not easily seen by store clerks or cameras. They also may constantly walk in and out of a store. If you spot a person like this, approach them and ask them if they need help. This will let the potential shoplifter know that they are being watched and will usually deter them from stealing.
Cashiers, make sure you check things like purses that are being bought. Small things can be hidden in them and watch for anyone carrying an umbrella. An umbrella makes a nice little bucket to lean against a shelf or a counter and stash small items in as well.
BE VIGILANT! Watch, watch, watch people and do not be afraid to approach them as I have mentioned. It makes a potential shoplifter uneasy and it will deter them from stealing.