Organized retail crime is a large national problem with monetary losses attributed to it somewhere in the billions each year. This causes a strain on not only the shop owner but also on their customer’s, with higher priced items to make up for the losses. So, if you are a retailer and want to know how to deal with retail theft effectively, keep reading.
The face of retail crime used to be petty shoplifters who were eyeing a pack of gum. That’s no longer the case. Today, sophisticated crime rings move from store to store and even city to city. Working in teams, some create distractions while others steal everything from infant formula to DVDs. Often, they are stocking up on specified items at the request of the organized crime leader.
To sell stolen goods, criminals once relied exclusively on the black market or locations like flea markets. Now, retail criminals have embraced technology and more and more are using internet marketplaces.
Today there is no effective federal, state or local deterrent for this rapidly growing criminal activity. State and local law enforcement cannot always chase criminals across state lines and onto the internet - and criminals know it. So it's a must for all retailers - if they want to reduce their losses - to undestand what they can do to prevent retail theft.
12 Ways on How to Deal With Retail Theft
#1. Employ uniformed security guards - uniformed guards can be a visual deterrent to thieves. Find a reputable security company that specializes in retail security and ensure they assign you a security officer that looks the part and knows what they are doing.
#2. Install a CCTV surveillance camera system - it goes without saying that a good CCTV camera system should be used to identify thieves and provide quality evidence for prosecutions. Make sure you buy a CCTV surveillance camera system with DVR, to record not only the sales floor but the staff only areas as well.
#3. Hire Store Detectives or Loss Prevention Officers - these are undercover security that operates in retail stores as “shoppers” with the intention of routing out shoplifters and making arrests. LPO’s also assist in identifying shrink issues within the store.
#4. Retail theft awareness training - get you and your staff enrolled on a retail theft awareness training course. Get trained in how to spot shoplifters, their methods, and how to deal with retail theft. You should also do weekly in-house refreshers of this course and join any newsgroups for updated information on retail crime techniques and preventions.
#5. Join a local retailer radio link system - many retail stores help each other via a radio-link; using two-way radios to keep in touch with each other regarding shoplifting teams or incidents that have happened. Local law enforcement will sometimes get involved in these retail link systems giving you direct communication to police.
#6. Install anti-theft devices - there are many anti-theft devices on the market you can use to protect your store and products. These include EAS (Electronic Article Surveillance) systems, cable alarm systems, security mirrors, spy cameras, product display or dummy cases, special display cabinets with locks and even retail safes.
#7. Keep up staff moral and relationships - keeping your staff happy and on-purpose in your business will help prevent disgruntled employees and potential internal theft or collusion fraud. Use a staff bonus or incentivized system where you and your staff win through inter-staff competitions. Make your staff feel a valued part of your store.
#8. Organize your store - organize your store from the viewpoint of “how and where would you steal from your store.” Look for blind spots that security cameras don’t cover and move high value merchandise away from vulnerable areas. Give staff specific areas to work in to deter theft opportunities. Place small high value products out of reach from thieves.
#9. Track high value items - make sure all high value items are counted in upon delivery and placed in a secure area. Physically monitor your high value product lines situated on the customer shop floor and storeroom areas. Don’t rely on your back-end stock control system as this won’t tell you if a product has been stolen. If you are regularly losing a particular product line, set up a covert spy camera to monitor that line.
#10. Know your vulnerable times - there are times throughout the day that are more troublesome for retailers than others, e.g. early mornings with potential thefts from school kids. Make sure you post adequate staff or security at these times.
#11. Build relations with local police - having local law enforcement officers on hand for assistance or advice is essential in dealing with retail theft. Make your store an open-house for police to come and take a quick break or have a chat. Thieves will think twice from visiting your store if it has a frequent police presence.
#12. Avoid stereo-typing - if you think retail crime is only carried out by long-haired, tattooed males then think again. When you start learning and dealing with retail theft correctly you will be quick to understand there is no one type or category that a shoplifter will fit into. Shoplifters meet the gamut of society - young children, old ladies, even officials and high profile stars.
The Price of Not Dealing with Retail Theft Effectively
How you deal with retail theft in your store will partly determine your success as a business. Leaving it to chance and avoiding in dealing with retail crime is like trying to keep a boat afloat while the passengers punch holes in the bow - you will eventually sink.
Investing in robust retail security systems and a good CCTV camera system for your store may seem like an unwanted expense, but when you see your profits being sucked down the drain by retail thieves, you will see how necessary they become. And don’t rely solely on these systems alone; staff training and awareness is also important in dealing with retail theft.