Commercial Shoplifting

Shoplifters come from every walk of life and can cost your business thousands of dollars every year. Shoplifters may be young people doing it for a thrill all the way up to professional shoplifters making a living stealing from you. There are many strategies to prevent shoplifting and we'll discuss several here.

Employees:  Your first and best line of defense against shoplifters are your employees.  Their attentiveness and understanding can often make the difference. 

  • Greet customers as the enter your business.  Ask customers if you can assist them.  Make eye contact with them.  Legitimate customers will appreciate your offering help and it tells shoplifters you are aware of them which is a deterrent too.

  • Face cashiers towards the store to maximize their opportunity to see customers.  Having an elevated cashier's platform will further enhance their view.

  • Make your employees aware of techniques used by shoplifters to distract them while an accomplice takes the merchandise.

Display & Layout Approaches:  How your store is arranged can give or take away shoplifting opportunities. 

  • Post signs warning that shoplifters will be prosecuted.  Prosecute in all instances including first time offenses (it may not be their first offense, just their first time being caught).

  • Displays and racks should not be placed close to entrances, especially expensive items.  Hooking clothing hangers to their rack from the inside will help prevent snatch and run incidents.

  • Use display cases for expensive items made with "strong glass."  Employees should only show one item at a time from these displays.

  • Whenever possible have display racks low enough for employees to see customers.  Install mirrors for any blind spots where direct view is blocked.

  • Neatly arranged merchandise allows employees to quickly realize when items are missing.

Fitting/Dressing Rooms:  Dressing rooms present another challenge in the prevention of shoplifting.  You cannot see into the rooms so you must use controls to limit the shoplifter's ability to use your dressing rooms to facilitate theft. 

  • Lock fitting room doors when they are not in use.

  • Cafe style doors allow a level of monitoring.

  • Require customers to see a sales associate before entering dressing room.

  • Limit the number of items allowed in the rooms at one time.

Price Switching:  Thieves will sometimes attempt to change the correct price by switching the sticker with an item of lesser value. 

  • Use tamper-resistant gummed labels.

  • Do not hand write price tags.

  • Use concealed second price tag.

  • Attach price tags with sturdy plastic string.

Shoplifter Methods:  Shoplifters use a variety of methods to accomplish their crimes. Being familiar with how they do it will help in recognizing where, when and who to watch

  • Watch for baggy/loose clothing which seems out of place given weather conditions.

  • Watch for bags, backpacks, large purses, etc. that allow for concealment.

  • Be aware that if someone is looking around a great deal they may need assistance or they may be checking to see if anyone is watching them before stealing. In either case, they require your attention.

Florida State Statute 812.015 states a merchant can, upon probable cause, detain a person to recover property in a reasonable manner and for a reasonable length of time.  Law enforcement must be called to the scene immediately after such a detention.  You may also wish to consult with an attorney to help develop you policies concerning the detention of any suspected shoplifters.