When it comes to security and crime prevention, there is a well-known concept of minimization, mitigation, and prevention. In other words, there is no way to completely stop all crime or to secure an entity completely and eliminate all risk. That being said, no matter how much money you are able to budget on security, there is always a way for it to be breached. The same goes for shoplifting—not all of it can be prevented. But often what is not prevented can be stopped, or at least recovered. In both cases, having open lines of communication and building solid working relationships with local police and other retailers in your area can be powerful to stop shoplifting.
There is a concept in criminology called modus operandi, commonly known as M.O. The methods that a criminal uses to perpetrate crime are often repeated each time they commit a crime. This is part of their M.O. When criminals find something that works well for them, they tend to recycle those methods. Once they get comfortable or caught, they mix things up. So how does this brief lesson in criminology help you stop theft?
Shoplifters who have been offending in a particular area will tend to continue offending in that area, especially when they continue to get away with it. Say that a shoplifter has been stealing from the store down the block. Once they are caught, or if they get very comfortable, they might work their way to your store. If you have open lines of communication with stores who are affected by shoplifters, they can share crucial information to identify them. That way, you can either deter those individuals that are likely to commit theft, or determine if they have been impacting your store. Nearby businesses may have already identified the shoplifter who is hitting your store. This is where having a good relationship with police can also help you stop shoplifting.
I’ve been a loss prevention detective at a department store in a mall for years. Luckily, there’s a police substation inside our mall, staffed by the same officer throughout the year. Our loss prevention team has created a great working relationship with that officer. We know that whenever there’s suspicious activity, or if a theft is confirmed, we can take the license plate of the offender’s vehicle to that officer. We have resolved several theft cases by leveraging that relationship with the police department, and have obtained large amounts of court-ordered restitution.
I can recall an incident when two adult siblings had concealed several holiday gift items into a shopping bag without paying for them. Once I and another loss prevention detective attempted to stop them, they fled in a vehicle with temporary license plate tags. The male returned a few days later, attempting to return the stolen merchandise. This time, he had his actual license plate on the vehicle. We got the license plate number, and gave it to the officer at the mall. Within a matter of minutes, he identified the male and his sister who had stolen from us. We were able to prosecute them and obtain court-ordered restitution for the items stolen at full retail value.
The moral of the story is that it pays to be connected. Get to know stores in your area and how they are dealing with theft. Establish a great working relationship with local police. You never know when they will be able to return the favor in a big way!
For more information contact us: Stop Shoplifting or call 1.770.426.0547