Apprehending a shoplifter might seem simple enough. You suspect someone of stealing from your store; you stop them and demand that they give you your merchandise back. In the most general terms, that is pretty much what happens. This is, however, a very glossed over view of a shoplifting situation.
When you are faced with an actual or suspected shoplifting incident in your store, there are so many potential variables that one must be aware of to be able to determine, within that moment, what you have a right to do, and what you legally cannot do. Loss prevention training from a loss prevention seminar can help you muddle through the myriad of possibilities that might point your decisions in one particular way or another.
Did you know that as a retailer you could exercise your right to verify a customer’s receipt? If you suspect that product has not been paid for by a customer- intentionally or by human error- you may politely ask to see their receipt. If a product was rung up incorrectly, or not at all, you may ask the customer if they would like to purchase the item.
They have the right to either make the purchase, or leave the merchandise with you. You cannot force them to buy any item. It is no different than forcing any other customer to make a purchase. You can only retain the product that was not paid for. If the item was rung up incorrectly, and the customer does not want the item at the correct price, you will need to give them a refund for the erroneous charge.
Keep in mind that you should exercise good decision-making during this process. Depending upon the situation (such as a bad price label, or an employee training issue) you may opt to let the customer go without validating their receipt and correcting your operational error on your own.
If you do make the decision that the customer needs to be involved and their receipt validated, you may ask to see their receipt, but they do not have to give it to you. The customer has every right to leave without allowing you to check the purchase. If you make an attempt to force them to stay, you can be charged with an unlawful detainment.
This is part of why it is important to understand why you are trying to validate a customer’s receipt. If you have a policy to validate every receipt, you need to make sure every single customer purchased is checked, so no one feels singled out. If you are using an EAS alarm activation as a reason, you are only looking to make sure an error did not occur in the purchase- such as an item accidentally overlooked.
If you truly suspect that this is a shoplifting incident, you should use your loss prevention training and make sure that proper steps have been made to validate the theft. You should not be making apprehensions off of a receipt validation. This will leave you exposed to the possibility of a bad stop and loss of potentially honest customers.
Visit the Loss Prevention Systems website for more information on Retail Employee Theft and Retail Shoplifting problems and view the Retail Loss Prevention Seminars, Retail Loss Prevention Training and Retail Loss Prevention Workshop we offer to help with your Employee Theft and Shoplifting problems.