“Hey, stop!!” Too late. There goes another one out the door with your merchandise. “Why do people shoplift anyway?” you ask yourself. The simple answer I have learned from my experiences as a loss prevention professional is “because they can.” Yes, there are a myriad of psychological reasons that motivate someone to shoplift but if you really want to stop shoplifting you just have to concentrate on that one: people shoplift because they can!
I have walked in many a retail store and have seen the store set-ups that have no anti-shoplifting strategy in place. Clerks are few and clumped together in one area talking about the weekend, displays are tall and stacked with merchandise, high-dollar merchandise is unsecured near the entrances and exits, and retail theft prevention technology is nonexistent. Anti-shoplifting strategies do not just happen by themselves. They have to be thought out, planned, trained, enacted, and reinforced.
Retailers always have to keep in mind that axiom: they shoplift because they can. To stop shoplifting all you have to do then is “harden the target” and make it a lot more difficult to shoplift and get away with it. One way is to set some policies with your staff about floor dispersion and make sure that your clerks and sales staff are walking all areas of the floor and asking customers if they need assistance. Paying attention to a potential shoplifter will drive him or her elsewhere in most cases and eliminate your problem. They can then become a problem for your competitors.
Store layout is also important as an anti-shoplifting strategy. Be mindful of where your high-dollar merchandise is located and try to keep it away from entrances and exits so potential shoplifters cannot just grab the merchandise and run. Keep that merchandise nearer your checkouts or under lock and key. You also want to make it so there are as few hidden areas in your store as possible. Keep the shelving and racks so your staff can see over it and scan the floor for potential shoplifters doing their thing. Try also not to make it easy for someone to push a cart load of merchandise through your store and out the doors. You can do this by planning your aisles so they can culminate with straight runs out the door. Use different display plans that are more geometrical rather than longitudinal.
Finally, a strong anti-shoplifting strategy to stop shoplifting in its tracks is the use of technology. Everyone thinks first of closed-circuit television as their initial anti-shoplifting strategy; however, we have to remember that CCTV is only good if someone watches it. I, for one, do not believe in having “dummy” cameras that do not capture any images due to the potential liability posed by them should something occur that should have been captured on video but wasn’t.
You can also stop shoplifting by using strong retail theft prevention devices such as Checkpoint systems which use hard and soft Checkpoint tags that are placed on merchandise and detected by special antennae in various configurations and price points. Checkpoint systems also has their Checkpoint tags in a multitude of styles that can be placed on merchandise of all types and detected when the potential shoplifter tries to leave without paying.
These Checkpoint systems have resulted in a many shoplifter detentions during my career as the potential shoplifter conceals the merchandise and forgets that a tag is present or removes an exterior tag only to find out that the manufacturer of the merchandise also believes in Checkpoint tags and has inserted a hidden tag in the merchandise. Unsuspecting shoplifters have been caught by these hidden tags many a time. Strong retail theft prevention strategies will now prevent you from having that shoplifter run from your store with merchandise. They will be bothering your competitors instead or will be escorted from your store by the police as a consequence of your system catching them and preventing your merchandise from leaving the store without activating one of your Checkpoint systems alarms.
“Because they can” will no longer apply to you once you engage in these theft prevention strategies. You will garner a reputation for being the wrong place to shoplift. I know this from working for a retailer who takes shoplifting very seriously and when I interviewed someone who, with a partner, had stolen from other retailers. When asked why they didn’t steal from our store, he said it all: “Because they can’t.”
For more information on Checkpoint tags contact us: 1.770.426.0547 or www.antishoplifting.net.