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10 Tips to Deter Shoplifting

Updated on October 7, 2014

In retail an observant employee can help prevent a majority of thefts at store level. It doesn’t require a lot of specialized training. A few tips on being more observant can go a long way towards making a difference with inventory losses in a retail setting.

1. Greet every customer coming in the door. Granted this isn’t always possible, but it’s well worth the effort. Letting the customer know you are aware they are in the store is a major deterrent to shoplifters.

2. Pay close attention to a customer that appears more interested in watching the employees rather than the product on the shelf. They are looking for a lapse in attentiveness. Constantly making eye contact with this customer should make them rethink their theft plans.

3. Approach the customer and ask “What can I help you find?” It’s another good way to let the customer know you are aware of them.

4. Watch regular customers as well as unfamiliar faces. A regular customer who routinely makes small purchases may also be stealing higher dollar items at the same time.

5. If it’s hot outside and someone comes in wearing a big coat, they merit watching. Large coats are great for concealing merchandise. Other hiding places include bags, baby strollers, up their sleeves, down their pants, under dresses, etc.

6. Don’t let customers start taking their order out the door before it’s been paid for. If their credit card or check is declined and the merchandise has already left the store, it could have been the plan all along.

7. Look for box stuffing. If a box isn’t sealed, open it at checkout to make sure the item inside the box matches the outside of the box. It can be a hassle, but it’s worth the extra effort.

8. Always check between stacked items. Stacks of items such as garbage cans, planters, plastic tubs, boxes, etc. can hide a lot of high dollar merchandise for a determined thief.

9. Be aware of loaded shopping carts as the customer moves through the store. That loaded cart can easily be pushed out an unwatched exit. It’s never a good idea to jump in front of one that is quickly headed out the door, the time to prevent it is before then. Bring an empty cart to the customer for ease of shopping and let them know their other cart will be waiting at the checkout lane.

10. Shoplifters often work in groups. If a solo thief has tried a particular location before without any luck, they may bring in others to help them steal. Be aware of someone acting as a distraction; don’t get tied up helping just one customer.

Get in the habit of using these easy tips on a regular basis. The only customers offended by attention are the ones who are probably up to no good. Make your retail location a place they want to stay away from.


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