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Shoplifting Prevention From The Mouths Of Thieves 2011: Part 2

Posted on 11/3/11 11:20 AM

This is part two of our blog, titled “Shoplifting From The Mouths Of Thieves: One Year Later.” Part One discussed why and how thieves shoplift; in this part we relay what the panel of shoplifters stated are the best deterrents that would prevent them from shoplifting and picking “target locations.”

Read part one here

We also recommend reading last year’s article, Shoplifting From The Mouths Of Thieves, highlighting facts and findings from interviews in 2010. This initial article will provide a comparison from one group of shoplifters (in 2010) to those interviewed this year.

“The Panel” Recap

The panel included 4 male shoplifters, two considered professional from a standpoint that they stole in order to benefit financially, selling the merchandise or returning stolen goods for gift cards and selling the gift cards. The remaining two, although stealing frequently, did so for personal need or want.

What deters them from stealing?

When asked to provide feedback on what will deter them from stealing from a particular retailer, their responses were;

  • Employee visibility and attentiveness

  • Store Set-up & Design

  • Physical Security Devices

They stated “employees who acknowledge me” and “retailers where employees are looking to help customers” as some of the drivers in their decision not to steal from a particular retailer. How the store is set up is another factor in their decision making. Stores that have “highshoplifting sign resized 600 racks” or “areas of the store where stealing can be easy” are easier targets than those with lower racks or open retail space, making hiding too difficult.

When it came to physical security devices, the consensus was it depends on the equipment. They expressed little concern with EAS, noting that they normally carried something to get tags off or packaging opened. Product keepers or other security cases may also not be a large concern, unless they are completed locked and require employee assistance to open and obtain merchandise. CCTV systems, depending on how they are positioned, also did not raise too much concern because they question whether or not someone is watching at the time of their theft or showed little concern about being recorded at the time of their theft.

What can a retailer do to prevent the shoplifting?

For the second year in a row our shoplifting panel has stressed employee awareness as a primary deterrent. Stressing good customer service, employee attentiveness to people in the store and engaging with customers are the best preventers of shoplifting. These shoplifters “chuckled” when they spoke about the lack of attentiveness by employees at some of their “common targets” and how easy it was to steal because the employees barely noticed them.

When it comes preventing shoplifting with physical security devices, the more the better.  The LPRC’s motto of “See it, Get it, Fear it” means just that. Although the panel can overcome them, for the less experienced thief you should have enough security devices for a potential shoplifter to see them, to understand what they are and why they are there, and to be so concerned about getting caught, they choose not to steal.

Finally, work with your store design team to try to arrange retail locations to minimize the potential “hot zones” of store set up and merchandising. It may not be possible to eliminate all concerns, however building a relationship and being an active participant with your store design team can help your loss prevention initiatives and efforts.

Having the opportunity to listen to known shoplifters provides an interesting and unique position for retailers and solution providers. It allows us to learn first-hand, how they view our anti-theft equipment and prevention tactics, while providing a different perspective as to what they see as beneficial or non-concerning versus our own sometimes biased perspective.


Written by David Johnston, Director of Business Development



Topics: training and awareness

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