The Complete Guide to Cutting Loss and Theft Over Christmas
The high street may be under pressure but with sales expected to pick up online and on the high street before Christmas, protecting your business from theft is important. But how do you do this?
Is shoplifting and theft on the increase?
Looking at the statistics, it appears so. The introduction of a £200 threshold for when shoplifting will be prosecuted in 2019 is just one reason why shoplifting has seen an increase of around 7% in England and Wales. The lack of deterrent is a clear reason why people continue to lift products from shops, with no intention of paying.
For shop owners, this paints a bleak picture. With your bottom line already under pressure, the thought of losing valuable stock is never welcome.
But there is something you can do about it. Fighting back means putting in place security measures that deter anyone from intentionally making off with goods without paying for them. But how? And what about costs?
Start with training
Do you know what to look for when someone is stealing?
The way people steal is underhand and clever. It takes a few seconds to take something from the shelf, place it in a bag or pocket and leave the store with it. Unless you are really looking, watching and examining people’s behaviour, you’ll miss it.
But the trained eye is more aware of when people are stealing items because there are signs to be spotted. It can be as simple as what someone is wearing (compare it to the weather) to the way they are acting. Shoplifters do look around but they do so right from the moment they walk in – they note where people are, the items they want, and the cover that is available to shield what they are planning to take.
But it’s also things like noticing people, when they arrive, what they are looking at, how often they have visited the store.
Training is about awareness as much what to do when someone leaves your store without paying for goods.
Assess the layout of your store
You have laid out your store to attract customers and to guide them in their purchasing decisions but you may have inadvertently created pockets where you cannot see what people are doing – in other words, how many items they’ve picked up and how many they actually pay for.
A simple change can make a big difference in what you can see and from which vantage points in your store. A store security detective could help you with this.
You also need to be aware of:
- Fitting rooms
- ‘Blind’ corners or aisles
- The front of the store, especially ‘grab’ items
With every sale hard-won, it’s no wonder that you want to keep all your overheads as low as possible with one way of doing this being to reduce hours and cut staff.
There is no greater deterrent than employees and shop staff mingling on the shop floor making it harder for a would-be thief to strike. If there is one thing a shoplifter doesn’t like, it is having to work hard to take what they want, even if being caught is not necessarily a deterrent! Knowing they are being watched is often enough for them to leave your premises.
You also need to be aware of your own routines as some thieves are not just after a few items here and here. How secure is your cash handling routine? Where is cash kept on the premises? How do you bank and, more importantly, do you bank at the same time on the same day every week? A routine can stand out to someone who is watching your store or premises.
Make security visible
Visible security measures are on a par with visible staffing – it’s off-putting because would-be thieves have to be careful and make more of an effort. There are many ways of doing this;
- CCTV – a big off-putting factor is CCTV, more so with a modern system that can produce high-quality evidence. Some shoplifting offences do come to court and when they do, clear images of someone stealing will make all the difference. Don’t forget a sign in a prominent position alerting everyone they are on camera.
- Security tags – tags on items means that sensors are likely to be activated if the thief doesn’t take measures to avoid it. Wrestling a tag off in the store is almost impossible meaning that they will need to take other measures.
- Visible security staff – security staff at the door and on the shop floor are also off-putting for the would-be shoplifter. Security staff are the eyes and ears on the shop floor, noting who is coming in the shop, their behaviour and so on.
- Covert security staff – not just for the big department stores, plain-clothes store detectives can make a difference in your shop too. Why not work with your neighbours to bring in security staff at key times, such as during Christmas fairs or sales?
- Town centre network – many town and city centres have a radio network which is useful for sharing information. It may be that someone has been spotted stealing from one shop and by alerting neighbours, their activities can be curtailed.
People steal for different reasons and there are thieves who are prolific, who make it their ‘career’ to lift items from stores, selling them online for a profit. Stop them by taking measures to make it much harder to steal from your store with these simple, effective measures.