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Identifying Shoplifters

Updated on August 10, 2020
Hui Angeles profile image

I have encountered many shoplifters in my entire life and their strategy was almost the same. I hope I can share to you how to identify them

Signs in Identifying Shoplifters


Retail stores lose about $50 billion per year because of shoplifting and other thefts. Identifying them doesn't mean you can eliminate them completely but you can reduce it's impact on your business by knowing simple gestures and signs, also by training your employees.


A shoplifter can be of any age, nationality, gender and social class. There are specific mannerisms and signs in order for you to identify and minimize the effect of theft on your business.

1. Visits frequently.

Your employee can be capable of detecting and determining unusual behavior even if there are less security systems on your store. Have them look out to those people who visits your store often and do not buy any items. You can also check those people who passed by your store multiple times while looking inside.

2. Familiar faces.

Not all familiar faces are shoplifters. They don't all fit in this category. But you are aware of the individuals who shoplifted your store or those who tried it. When you caught someone shoplifting, you can ask them not to return your store. If you seem to find your visitor suspicious, you can increase the security measures or keep your senses up at all times.

Security systems with facial recognition technology can help you identify the previous shoplifters. There are security companies that can help you add photo of the previous thief and you will be alerted once they enter your store.

3. Oversized clothing and bags.

Thieves often carry a large bag and purses because they can easily hide the items that they stole. Wearing oversized clothing can surely let them carry multiple items without alerting people around them. There are other reasons why you carry large bags and wear large clothing, but the most important thing is to keep an eye to those who have their large, open bag.

Be mindful of the surroundings.
Be mindful of the surroundings. | Source

4. Groups.

Most strategies of the shoplifters were forming groups. This helps them to avoid getting people's attention to themselves. They will split up so the other part of their group can steal while the others distruct the employees. They could also take and be at the different parts of the store at the same time.


5. Distracting your employees.

The diversion strategy always works. A diversion is one of their best tactics to shoplift. If there is someone who ask and questions excessively a certain thing or they need help in a specific location of the store, you can pay special attention to this customer and alert some of your employees about the other customers as well. Remember, being cautious is important than losing anything.

6. Looking for out-of-stock items.

Another method is asking your employees about an out-of-stock item. These items is typically available in the main part of the store. They will have their ways to get you out of the store and get you to check the storage room, with this, they can easily grab what they want and just get away like nothing happened.


7. Examining multiple items.

Shoplifters can often pick up different items just to distract and let you think that they are just examining it, in that way, you won't feel strange or notice that they already stole an item. Unable to monitor it, you won't know what item is actually stolen.


8. Too much sweating.

One body language of a liar is an excessive sweating. There are lot of reasons for this, but of course, it is worth keeping an eye on this situation and to those someone who is flushed on a cold day.


9. Lack of eye contact.

Those people who want to deceive you can have a difficult time in making an eye contact especially when they are questioned. It is a top sign that the person can be a possible suspect in shoplifting and may be something that to be look forward to.

10. Constantly looking around.

Shoplifters do not want to be watched so they will make sure to look around for the employees before they do their job. Attention of everyone is the least thing that they wanted. If you noticed someone that keeps on checking and eyeing everything, you may want to pay a special attention.

11. Getting nervous when they are questioned.

A study found that people who are lying always give short answers when they are being questioned. They are being defensive and over justifying their behavior when they are approached by another person. If you notice someone who's shoplifting, you can ask them if they need help with anything to get some clues about their intention.

12. Know where your security camera is placed.

Your security cameras around the store are noticed easily by the shoplifters. They will avoid the parts where your cameras are placed and focused at the back corners or areas that is not well monitored.


13. Loitering on one spot.

They tend to stand around for a while in a particular part of your store. You need to notice those people who keep on coming back and forth to those spots and spending their unusual time on it.

14. Off hours shopping.

This scenario is typical because there are a lot of people around. Your employees are also busy, keep in mind that there are good samaritans. Other shoppers can help you notice something during the slow times. But this is a 50-50 situation.

15. Switching the price tag.

Some shoplifters doesn't necessarily steal. Some switches the price tag to another item for a smaller value but that item was expensive enough. You might want to familiarize yourself on your items. Always make sure that the price tag is intact and check those who does not have any price tags.

16. Exiting your store quickly.

This doesn't mean that they will bolt once they finished their goal. Keep in mind that they will have some red flags and you will notice it. They can walk a little bit briskly than the other customers. So if you have security cameras, might as well check their footage.


Not everything that is listed in here is a sign of a shoplifter. Some customer tend to take their quality time when shopping because it helps them to release their stress. Taking some security and preventive measures won't hurt when it is done correctly. Always remember that this is for your store, you also need to take a good care of it. The important thing is do not go overboard when checking your customers. You don't want them to feel uncomfortable. Your customers satisfaction is your top priority.


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