You need to consider all of your circumstances and then choose the retail theft preventative measures that suits your business. You can ask your local law enforcement officer for advice. And just remember that all retailers are at risk of store theft. Never think that your type of business isn’t.
Establish a Policy
Establish a store policy for the prevention of customer theft and make sure that all of your staff are aware of it. Remember to brief any new and part-time employees on the store policy and procedures.
Train Your Staff
Alert and well trained staff form the basis of good retail crime prevention. Don’t rely on technology alone but invest in proper staff training. Find a suitable training company that teaches retail theft awareness or hire a local private investigator that has specialised knowledge in retail investigations. Retail loss prevention training doesn’t need to be expensive and once trained just 15 minutes or so each week should be enough for staff refresher training.
Vigilance – teach your staff to be alert, and to recognise store thieves. There are many signs of a retail thief but they will often look around the shop floor rather than at the products, and behave in other suspicious ways. Get your staff trained to spot these potential thieves.
Know what to do when a suspect is identified – decide on what you expect your staff to do when they identify a suspected thief. Making suspects aware they have been noticed will often be enough to deter them from stealing. Use the normal store sales approach such as; “can I help you?” or “can I help you find something?” Make yourself busy near the suspect; continue walking past them, smiling and looking them in the eye. This will usually put them off. If the theft has already occurred you will want your staff to keep the thief under close observation – or alert security staff if you employ them – with a view to making a citizen’s arrest.
Retail Theft Prevention Devices
Use a combination of loss prevention measures. Most loss prevention strategies work best with a combination of things such as; CCTV can work more effectively, when helped by use of security mirrors, good lighting, and well-trained alert staff. Store design is also very important.
You should put yourself in a thief’s shoes and see how easy it is to steal from your store, and then introduce any anti-theft devices that make it harder. Some loss prevention ideas for retail stores are:
Display dummy or non-functional goods - display empty dummy boxes for high-value goods and remove the key parts from electrical goods.
Cabinets and cabinet security – display store items within glass cabinets. If high valued goods are displayed in the cabinets, the glass will need to be fixed so that it can’t be lifted out. Locks must be of good quality with key access strictly controlled.
Warning notices and signs – place prominent signs and notices around your store warning customers about the consequences of theft. Signs are inexpensive and work best if they are displayed in high risk areas.
Mirrors – mirrors can help you to keep an eye on areas which would otherwise be out of sight. Place them on pillars or walls that help you to see in visual dead-spot areas.
Display “loop” Alarms – high value store items can be protected by wires which “loop” through them to an alarm box. If the wire is cut or disconnected without the use of key or code, the alarm will sound. Product security-tagging may also be a valuable anti-theft device for your retail store.
Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) – in-store CCTV cameras will deter some thieves, and can help with prosecutions as long as good quality equipment is used. CCTV cameras should be highly visible. You can place monitors mounted at entrances, and place signs up around the store alerting potential thieves that CCTV is in use. Dummy CCTV cameras can provide a short term inexpensive deterrent on their own, or they can increase the apparent cover and therefore deterrent value of a live CCTV system. But don’t just rely on dummy cameras as thieves will soon find out.
Working With Others
Radio-link security schemes – these schemes link a number of different retailers with radio communications, and usually provide a channel with the local police. This allows early-warnings about the approach of known troublemakers to be broadcast to the retail stores and for the assistance of law enforcement if needed.
Store Banning and Exclusion of Unwanted Customers
Your store is private property, just like your home, and even though there is an implied invitation to come in and shop, you are fully entitled to exclude any person from your store. If you feel that someone in your shop is unhelpful or detrimental to your business – e.g. a drunken person, a previously arrested shoplifter, or a suspect thief – you can ban (permanently exclude) them from your store. You do not have to give any reason for banning someone. Just politely tell them that you would rather they didn’t shop there anymore, and that you would appreciate it if they didn’t come into your store again.
If they return they will be trespassing, and you can order them to leave. If they refuse to leave, you are entitled to call the police who can assist you in removing them. If your store is located in a mall or shopping center, then you can call a security guard to help remove them.