Ensuring Store Security: Protecting Your High-Theft Retail Store

Operating a retail store in an environment plagued by theft and burglary can be a daunting challenge for any business owner. In the United States, the issue of retail crime continues to pose a significant threat, resulting in substantial financial losses and operational disruptions. However, by implementing effective security measures and hiring a security officer, store owners can minimize theft and create a safe environment for both employees and customers. In this blog post, we will delve into the importance of having a security officer for a high-theft retail store and outline essential steps to mitigate theft and burglary.

The State of Crime and Theft in the USA:
Before exploring the preventive measures, let’s understand the gravity of the situation. Crime and theft have long been a concern in the United States, particularly in the retail sector. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), the average cost of shrinkage, including theft, shoplifting, and employee fraud, was estimated at $61.7 billion in 2019 alone. This alarming statistic not only highlights the substantial financial impact on businesses but also emphasizes the need for proactive security measures.

Why Hire a Security Officer?

A security officer serves as the first line of defense against theft and burglary in a high-theft retail store. Here are some reasons why having a security officer is crucial:

1. Deterrence: The presence of a uniformed security officer can act as a strong deterrent to potential thieves and shoplifters. Knowing that trained personnel are monitoring the premises can dissuade criminal activity and reduce the likelihood of theft.

2. Immediate Response: In the unfortunate event of a theft or burglary attempt, a security officer can quickly respond, assess the situation, and take appropriate action. Their expertise in handling such incidents ensures a swift and coordinated response, minimizing damage and potential harm.

3. Customer Service and Employee Safety: A security officer not only provides security but also enhances the overall customer experience. They can assist customers, answer queries, and provide a sense of safety and assurance. Moreover, having a security presence fosters a safer work environment for employees, boosting morale and productivity.

Steps to Minimize Theft and Burglary:

While hiring a security officer is a vital step, implementing additional preventive measures can reinforce your store’s security. Consider the following steps:

1. Install a Comprehensive Surveillance System: Utilize a combination of video cameras, alarms, and monitoring systems strategically placed throughout your store. High-quality surveillance can deter potential criminals and provide evidence for investigations.

2. Optimize Store Layout: Design your store layout with theft prevention in mind. Clear visibility across the store, well-placed mirrors, and minimizing blind spots can discourage theft and make it easier for security personnel to monitor activity.

3. Implement Access Control Measures: Control access to sensitive areas, such as stockrooms and offices, with restricted key cards or biometric systems. Limiting access reduces the chances of internal theft and unauthorized entry.

4. Train Employees: Conduct regular training sessions to educate employees about theft prevention strategies. Teach them how to identify suspicious behavior, handle shoplifters, and report incidents promptly. Encourage open communication and establish a culture of vigilance.

5. Increase Lighting and Signage: Adequate lighting inside and outside the store, especially in parking lots, can deter criminals. Use prominent signage indicating video surveillance and security measures, reinforcing the notion that theft will not go unnoticed.

6. Secure Cash Handling: Establish strict cash-handling procedures, including the use of drop safes, frequent cash register audits, and limited access to the cash office. Minimizing the cash on hand and promoting safe cash-handling practices reduces the likelihood of internal theft.

Protecting a high-theft retail store requires a multi-faceted approach that combines the presence of a security officer with comprehensive security measures. By investing in professional security services, implementing preventive measures, and fostering a vigilant work environment, store owners can significantly reduce theft and burglary incidents. Remember, prioritizing security not only safeguards your business’s financial health but also provides peace of mind for employees and customers, creating a safe and enjoyable shopping experience for all.

Signs of a Potential Shoplifter

Shop owners and store managers already have their hands full when running a retail establishment. The safety and security of their staff, shoppers and merchandise are always a top concern when running a smooth operation. The National Retail Federation reports that inventory shrink accounts for nearly $4.86 Billion in losses every year. Retail spaces, small and large, report that they’ve seen an increase in theft and shoplifting. Despite this, there are a number of things shop owners and store managers can do to reduce shoplifting in their stores.

Some stores train their staff to identify potential shoplifters, or at least individuals who display abnormal behavior. Loss prevention units are especially trained in watching shoppers to reduce to loss of merchandise and store profits. There is no such thing as a typical look of a shoplifter. Additionally, people of all backgrounds regardless of race, gender, age, etc. have been caught shoplifting. Here are some things you can watch out for when surveying shoppers in your establishment:

Displaying Avoidance Behaviors

It’s important to be able to recognize certain behaviors and body language of a potential thief. When a shopper is particularly being aloof and avoids making eye contact with other people, that can be a cause of concern. Look for customers who avoid other shoppers, especially staff members. Some shoplifters may even spend a considerable amount of time in an obscure part of the store where they can be left alone.

Wearing Large or Multiple Layers of Clothing

Wearing large or more clothing than is appropriate for the weather may also be a cause for concern. Large coats and jackets can conceal stolen goods and merchandise without making it appear obvious to an untrained eye. Some shoplifters will even go as far as wearing layers of stolen clothing while in fitting rooms so that they aren’t carrying it out the store. Be on the lookout for bulky jackets, coats, or hoodies that can easily hide merchandise.

Carrying Large or Multiple Bags

Although carrying shopping bags are typical of shoppers, be wary of individuals carrying rather large, seemingly empty bags. Also be on the look out for shoppers carrying backpacks, large purses or tote bags, beach bags, luggage, or duffle bags.

Pay Frequent Visits to the Store

Seasoned shoplifters will visit a location multiple times before finally returning to steal or shoplift their targeted items. Before doing so, they may appear to wander or look around for potential targets to steal. Many consider this activity as scoping or casing an area before returning, often when an accomplice, to commit theft.

Casing an area doesn’t necessarily always happen in-store either. Often times, thieves will case the outside of a building to look for vulnerabilities in security, and ideal points of break-in. We have another article detailing ways thieves can break into a retail establishment and how to reduce the chances of it.

Distracting Behaviors

Many shoplifters will distract store clerks to make it easier for someone else to steal. This is more often done in smaller retail spaces, and usually those without a security camera system in place. You’ve probably seen videos online of an accomplice occupying a cashier while an accomplice ventures to the opposite end of the store to shoplift. Beware of individuals who come in together then split up once inside the store.

Making a Fast Exit

Most shoplifters won’t hang around after they’ve stolen something. They’ll quickly bolt towards the exit without so much as making eye contact. Some may attempt to conceal their identity by pulling up their hood or scarf. There are videos circulating the internet of brazen thieves quickly leaving establishments while carrying piles of merchandise. However, most other shoplifters are discreet in their crimes as they life to draw as little attention to themselves as possible.

Beware of Carts and Strollers

As surprising as it may be to some, some shoplifters are caught pushing strollers and carts. Most strollers have storage compartments where moms can keep their bags and other belongings. These are easy containers for stolen merchandise as most wouldn’t assume a mother to steal. Some thieves were even caught pushing empty strollers to throw off the unsuspecting store clerk.

Hire Security

Many stores and retail establishments are hiring private security guards to stand watch at their store entrances. Most of the time the presence of a security guard is enough to deter would-be thieves and shoplifters from stealing merchandise. Other times, they may even intervene of the guard witnesses the criminal committing the act of shoplifting.