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How to spot shoplifters

Updated on May 17, 2013


When I'm not writing on Hubpages I'm usually working as a security guard at a clothing store. I have seen many shoplifters come in and some do get away with it. Lets face it you won't be able to catch every shoplifter out there, but you can deter them by knowing what types of suspicious aspects to look for.

So who or what should make you suspicious? First of all notice their clothing, hooded sweatshirts, sunglasses, scarves or any attempt to cover one's face is an simple way of spotting a thief, why the need to sport a scarf in the hot summer? Also don't forget baggy unfitting, or unseasonable clothing. Heavy, baggy clothing can be used to conceal items.

You also need to pay attention to suspicious behavior. When people come in pairs and split up and act like they don't know each other. Look for subtle movements such as hand signals or eye contact. Some may try to distract you by asking a lot of questions, while their partner slinks away unnoticed. Check to see if they enter together but leave separately. Make sure you also watch out for people taking quick glances around, looking nervous. Another red flag is when a customer is not interested in what they asked you about.

Another way to spot shoplifters is to observe suspicious movement. When they move around from place to place quickly and methodically. Closing up their clothes, or pockets for no reason. Walking funny or behind a sales counter. Keeping their hands in their pockets or down low out of sight. Roaming around the store with seemingly no purpose. Also if they are in one spot for a long time they may be deciding weather or not they want to attempt stealing so watch them too.

It's also important to know what the shoplifter carries. They usually have big bags. It's a red flag if they have a big bag that they leave open all the time. This makes it easier for them to drop smaller items inside. Old shopping bags or garbage bags are suspect too. If it's a clothing store, shoplifters may attempt to take large amounts of clothing into the fitting rooms. Watch and see what they come out with. Ask the employee working at the fitting rooms if all the clothes the person took inside are accounted for.

Shoplifting is often referred to as "the victimless crime" but this is not true. Many businesses as well as our economy are hurt by this crime. Stealing is stealing plain and simple. I hope this will make people more vigilant and aware of what to look for when they suspect a shoplifter in their establishment.


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    • ChrisIndellicati profile image

      ChrisIndellicati 3 years ago from New York, NY

      You have to find a better outlet other than shoplifting. I am truly sorry for what you have been through but stealing is not the way.

    • profile image

      Lee5791 3 years ago

      I have not so much had even a speeding ticket until I was 50 yrs. old. Then my sister committed suicide and my life has self destructed. I have suffered from severe depression since her death and blame myself and have terrible guilt. For unknown reasons I have shoplifted when I am so depressed I feel like I am also going to commit suicide so I don't have to feel the pain, depression and guilt. I have 3 misdemeanor charges where I live. After the last, I got into therapy and treatment for my depression and it is helping. But recently I did it again in another state. I picked up a purse in a store and went into a dressing room and put a shirt and skirt inside. Then I walked outside in the mall area and waited. The lp person came and asked me to come back inside so I did. Then in the office I panicked and realized what this would do to my elderly parents now that I'm all they have left. I begged to speak to the manager or anyone that would listen to me but the LP were not interested in anything I had to say. I was arrested, and brought to jail for my 85 yr.mold parents to bail me out. Now I have more guilt and depression over what I did to them. What is going to happen to me on this 4th misdemeanor charge. Mia there any hope that I can avoid jail?

    • ChrisIndellicati profile image

      ChrisIndellicati 4 years ago from New York, NY

      While I don't agree with that lifestyle I'm not even gonna sit here and judge you. I totally get why you do it I just don't believe in stealing. Hopefully you won't have to Di this and you can feel the pleasure of purchasing what you want with hard earned cash one day good luck to you

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      charles davy 4 years ago

      I shoplift all the time and I love it. Here's the thing, when people shoplift the price on goods goes up, so even if I am doing nothing wrong I am stilling going to be punished by paying higher prices. Second, the profit margins in these stores are huge, so I have no qualms about reducing it. Third, I don't have a lot of money as a college student and I see it as a good way to get what I want/need, yes need, healthy food is pretty expensive (and I am not going to resort to eating cheap fast food). Finally, I don't really care about anyone else. Life is hard and no one is looking out for me, I'll do whatever it takes to make my life easier and more enjoyable.

    • ChrisIndellicati profile image

      ChrisIndellicati 6 years ago from New York, NY

      Thanks Mike I hope your son picks his friends better now lol

    • profile image

      mikeq107 6 years ago

      Very true...well written...about 6 years back a friend of my sons came to the mall with us. It wqas a hot day, but he decided to wear his hooded sweat shirt... yes you guessed and he got caught and I told the officer to book him and so did his grandfather who arrived shortly after and he was a state trooper....not only was he try to rob from the store, but also my time my son etc...great hub!!

      Mike :0)

    • ChrisIndellicati profile image

      ChrisIndellicati 6 years ago from New York, NY

      Thanks spiffyD I'm glad you liked it.

      I'll take the bullet points into consideration.

    • SpiffyD profile image

      SpiffyD 6 years ago from The Caribbean

      Useful hub; voted up and useful. A few bullet points would have helped the appearance and readability of the article though.