What Small Business Owners Need to Know about Shoplifters

shopliftingIn 2013, the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention calculated yearly business losses from the crime at $13 billion. Another source put losses from retail theft even higher at $40 billion. No business owner can afford to ignore the problem, and most have established some sort of security procedures and theft-detection systems.

Have you trained your employees on best practices in minimizing shoplifting and spotting offenders?

Experts say that shoplifters don’t fit any particular demographic; they can be in their teens or their 80s, male or female, and from every social group. Some otherwise “respectable” people steal items on impulse. Others, known as kleptomaniacs, experience an irresistible compulsion to steal. People with substance abuse problems or a driving need for food or medical supplies may steal out of desperation. Young people are especially prone to shoplift on a dare or for thrills.

There are also professional shoplifters, who target high-demand items with good resale value. These may be the most difficult thieves to detect because they often have familiarized themselves with the premises beforehand. But, they can be thwarted if employees are alert and a store is laid out in a pattern that limits their opportunities.

Watch for behaviors that could signal shoplifting: bulky bags and clothing that could conceal merchandise, erratic movements, and swift, nervous glances. Some shoplifting teams have one member distract staff by causing an altercation, thereby giving his or her partner a chance to get away with stolen goods.

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