How to prevent shoplifting by identifying thieves.

Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet “One may smile, and smile, and be a villain.” This is a point that I press upon my employees when teaching them to actively prevent shoplifting in our business. I don’t believe that everyone is a thief…but in order to effectively prevent shoplifting the employees within your business have to know how to identify and deter the shoplifters that frequent your establishment.

I ask my newly hired employees “what does a shoplifter look like?” In response to this question I usually receive a variety of interesting answers. Some employees already have the insight to know that there is not a “look” to a shoplifter. Any person that walks into your store could be a shoplifter, whether they are young or old, male or female, etc. In order to truly prevent shoplifting your employees need to observe customer behavior and identify when a customer may be acting suspiciously.

A person intent on shoplifting will take note of exits, the merchandise they would like to steal, and where the employees are located in the store. He or she will notice secluded corners and choose these areas to conceal your merchandise. Shoplifters may work in pairs so one can distract an employee while the other steals. Shoplifters may also select merchandise quickly without really “shopping” i.e. looking closely at the item, or the price. When your business is training employees to effectively prevent shoplifting, the above noted behaviors need to be brought to their attention. Noticing simple behaviors can speak volumes as to the intent of the customer.

I recently visited with my employees that apprehend shoplifters at the company I work for. I had studied 2010’s statistics and noticed that our average shoplifter age was pretty young – late 20s. This reminded all of us that anyone, of any age, might be a shoplifter. Just because she looks like your Grandma doesn’t mean she isn’t a shoplifter. Their actions must be what we listen to when identifying a customer’s intent to shoplift. Train on these techniques, and you can help prevent shoplifting within your business.

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