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Retail Theft Prevention – External Theft Part 1

April 29, 2009

After many years in retail I have come to understand one thing:most small/mid-size retailers do not know how to properly protect themselves from theft, both internal and external. Granted, they may have installed a security camera that gets reviewed occasionally or done a quick, one-time inventory check to make sure the most expensive items are safe, but many times they forget the basics that end up resulting in potentially huge losses. There are a number of basics that, when done in a consistent manner and discussed clearly and openly with all employees, can add to any store/company security and, subsequently, their bottom line.

External Theft

1)Do your windows promote too much? While it’s important to tell the outside world what’s going on within, make sure you’re not covering a prospective holdup/break-in. If you can’t see outside from your cash register area others can’t see in (eg – police). In addition, make sure you leave at least some lights on overnight;thieves love anonymity.

2)Are your aisles clearly visible for/from your employees positions? Walk your store and determine if you can see your employees from most, if not all, areas;if you can’t, they can’t be expected to see a shoplifter.

3)Make sure your employees keep their heads up! Shoplifters love nothing better than an employee who isn’t looking at them. Also, let your employees know that, when looking up, if a customer is constantly looking at them they are NOT THAT GOOD LOOKING! The customer is keeping an eye on them to see if THEY are being watched. If this occurs, someone should approach the customer, on the floor, asking if they need assistance. Remember, since most thieves thrive on anonymity, they won’t like the offer of help and will probably move on and/or leave. One of the best shoplifting defenses: CAN I HELP YOU?

4)If you have an EAS (Electronic Article Surveillance) system, do you and/or your employees know how to react when it goes off? Many times I observe employees hearing it, looking at the customer who set it off and letting them leave the store, assuming a tag was missed. Shoplifters are very good at what they do;it’s their business! Don’t ever assume they don’t know, and have probably studied, your business habits. The oldest trick in the book is to purposely retain an item that is tagged (while concealing unpaid items), show it to the counter employee when the alarm goes off, then be allowed to go on their merry way! Be sure you have a set policy for employees to follow whenever the EAS alarm goes off;if you don’t you product is more than likely literally walking out your front door!

More tips to follow…..