Shoplifting is a major problem in the retail sector, accounting for 38% of retail shrinkage. That’s a big chunk, so every retailer must take steps to prevent it. Here’s how:

Know the signs

Shoplifters usually exhibit the following behaviors:

  • Avoids eye contact
  • Spends more time looking at employees and exit routes rather than browsing the merchandise
  • Wears bulky clothing
  • Walks in and out of the store repeatedly without buying anything

Acknowledge each customer who walks in

Greet every single person who comes into your store. This lets them know that you’re aware of their presence, and it makes them less likely to commit a crime. But don’t just stop with a greeting. Continue to engage them as they look around.

When you spot someone shoplifting…

The right procedure for handling shoplifters may vary depending on the laws in your area, as well as the type of store you have and where you’re located. That said, if you decide to confront a shoplifter, here are some best practices:
1. Establish shoplifting probable cause – You must first have probable cause if you plan to detain a person suspected of shoplifting. This means you or your staff must have witnessed the person take your merchandise and attempt to leave the store without paying for them.
2. Confront them – If you decide to confront the suspected shoplifter, approach them when they have exited the premises. It’s best to have additional personnel with you when you approach the shoplifter.
A good rule is to outnumber the suspected shoplifter by a least one. The extra personnel usually prevents the suspect from fighting or attempting to flee. A female back-up is best if a female suspect is being detained.
When you approach the shoplifter, immediately identify yourself. Always have a form of ID to show the suspect. If you have loss prevention personnel who aren’t in uniform, see to it that they have their badge or ID handy.
The presentation of credentials should occur simultaneously with the words “I’m with xxx Stores, and I would like to talk with you about the ‘two bottles of xxx wine’ in your bag.
From there, aim to retrieve the merchandise before going back into the store so you can confirm the theft before detaining the shoplifter.
3. Escort them back into your store – Take the shoplifter back into your store. You may want to have more than one escort to keep them from running or endangering other people in your shop. Once inside, see if there are any other items you can retrieve, then tally the costs.
No one wants to think about being robbed or stolen from, but as a business owner, you need to think about these scenarios and prepare for them. The last thing you want is to be caught off guard.