Common Shoplifting Methods in Retail

Common Shoplifting Methods in Retail

As a retail manager, it is important to be aware of various shoplifting tactics. Most tactics vary from store to store due to key elements that contribute to each individual store such as store layout or highly targeted products. Whatever the situation may be, a retail team should keep watch for the following methods for shoplifting in order to prepare and prevent loss of inventory.

Distraction theft – “a group of people will enter a store and distract staff in order to steal.” The retail team should be aware when a group of people is being overly obnoxious and go above and beyond to distract employees. This tactic is popular with younger shoplifters.

 Staff collusion – “staff will work with ‘customers’ to steal goods or cash.” No one is exempt from shoplifting, and this includes employees. Be aware when staff members frequently have visits from colleagues and friends.

Bagging – “items will be hidden within bags brought with thieves into the store. Metal lined bags will prevent any exit tagging alarm systems being activated.” Staff should be aware of any suspicious or oversized bags that are brought into the store. These bags can be hard to identify.

Hiding merchandise – “thieves may store goods in the under-tray of prams, or conceal them within clothing or handbags.” This is a very a very common tactic shoplifters use. What they may also do is hide items in a package of a less expensive item, only paying the price for the less expensive item.

Walk out techniques – “simply selecting items and walking out without any attempt to conceal the items.” This tactic is often quite effective because it can be done without exhibiting any suspicious behaviour.

Price swapping – “changing over price tags in order to pay a lower price.” This tactic is also very common. It is important to make sure price tags are clearly labeled and displayed to avoid this tactic.

Fake returns – “thieves will select an item in store and take it to the returns desk in attempt to obtain a refund.” This is common with bigger stores with large inventories and broad return policies. A suspect may claim to have lost their receipt and threaten to speak to a supervisor. It is important to have a very strong return policy to avoid this tactic.

‘Accidental’ Stealing – “a thief pays for one item at the till and holds another in view, or places it in a pocket etc. If caught, the offender can simply pass the theft off as an ‘accident’.” If this is seen happening, staff should be sure to calmly stop the offender and ‘bring to their attention’ that the item was not paid for. If the offender returns the item without paying, that is a clear indicator that they had no intention on paying for the item from the start.

For more information on retail theft, contact Alpha1 Security Services today.





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