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.

Simple Ways to Secure Your Home

Your home is your safe haven and should give you a peace of mind. According to the FBI, approximately 7 million property crimes occurred in 2019. Here are a few simple tips to secure your home.

Secure the Doors

Inspect all door locks. Better yet, change the locks when moving in to make sure there aren’t strangers out in the world with keys to your home. Install additional locks like dead bolts or a strike plate for added security. Additionally, invest in a video doorbell for extra security. Most video doorbells feature a mobile app for remote monitoring.

Lock Windows

First floor windows are one of the most common point of entries for burglars. Think about reinforcing your windows by installing window or glass break sensors. These typically are included in home security systems and chime or alert you when a window is opened. Add window bars or window security film to prevent entry. Furthermore, planting prickly plants outside the window makes it harder for would-be burglars to enter.

Install Ample Lighting

Good lighting can help deter burglaries and break-ins. Lighting up the landscape to minimize hiding spots will help protect your home. Install motion-activated lights and save money on an energy-efficient system like ones that are solar powered. Place lights around the exterior of the house, along pathways, on the driveway, and near the garage.

Reinforce the Garage

Next to the front door and windows, the garage is another popular point of entry for burglars. It often leads to valuable tools and equipment. Often times, homeowners neglect their garage door when covering home security. Secure the garage door with extra lights and set up a smart garage door opener. Cover the windows to hide the contents within and never leave the garage door open while unattended.

Install a Home Security System

A home security system is a one-stop shop for securing almost every aspect of your home. Monitor everything from a camera surveillance system to smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. Many home security systems are a feature of a smart home system which allows you to set timers, set automation, and monitor who enters and leaves the property. Install surveillance cameras and motion detectors for added security. Many come with night vision and have wi-fi capability.

Eliminate Hiding Places

Trim bushes, trees, and minimize spots around the property where trespassers could potentially hide. Contrary to popular belief, most burglaries occur during the middle of the day between the hours of 10AM and 3PM. Burglars like to enter your property when you are more likely to be gone at work. Don’t leave tools, ladders, or other goods on display around the yard. Add security signs and stickers to your property to let any would-be burglars know that your home is secured. Lock gates, tool sheds, garages, and other outdoor buildings.

Get a Safe

Decide what type of safe and the size you need to store your valuables or anything else you wouldn’t want intruders to get their hands on. A portable safe or an anchored safe offer different benefits. An added security feature for safes have redundant (multiple) locks.

Guard Dogs

Dogs not only make great family pets, they’re excellent guard dogs. Dogs are naturally inclined to protect their packs (you) and their territory (the house). They’ll alert you of any strangers approaching the property and may even deter any intruders once they come face to face with a guard dog. Many breeds are intelligent, alert, and loyal enough to be trained specifically for personal protection.

Do Your Research

It’s always a good idea to do your due diligence when moving into a new home. Make sure to check the local crime ratings in the area you’re thinking about moving to. Drive through the neighborhood before moving in to see how you like the area.

Biggest Safety and Security Issues for Hotels

Safety and security at hotels is one of the most important things for ensuring a good experience for guests and visitors. Every level of hospitality ranging from high-end boutique hotels to your run of the mill motel constantly work towards a safe environment for everyone. Though safety and security takes a never ending effort, here are the top concerns for hotels:

Safety Emergencies

As all things go, it’s better to be prepared than not for every situation. Just because safety emergencies are unpredictable it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t plan for them! For fire/life/safety emergencies, proper training and protocols set in place can mean the difference between life and death.

Fire

Fire is an emergency that can grow increasingly dangerous by the second. Having measures set in place ensures the safety of individuals and minimize potential damage to the building or infrastructure. While checking fire emergency protocol, first ask yourself a few questions. Can firetrucks easily access the property and all sides of the building? Who is authorized to take control and take action in a fire emergency? Is there anyone who unlocks the gates and other points of access for emergency crews? Who has the keys and who is knowledgeable of access codes? Are the fire alarms functional? If you’re unsure, you can contact your local fire department to check every fire alarm to make sure they’re working. Additionally, are exit routes and signs clearly displayed? If a fire breaks out, are exit routes clearly displayed? Everything combined can mean the difference in the way a fire emergency is handled. Making sure your staff and your building are properly equipped to handle these situations are highly important to safety.

Medical Emergency

Similar to a fire emergencies, there are instances where emergency personnel need to quickly access certain areas of the building without pause. Each second can be crucial in the safety of an individual should they have a medical emergency. You have to again ask yourself, can emergency vehicles easily access the property of the side of the building where an emergency is taking place? Is there a person in charge who can grant entry to emergency personnel and are they equipped to do so? Everything ties back to proper training and having protocols in place. To mitigate this issue, have an emergency procedure manual that’s accessible and easy to read. Readiness and preparedness are key factors here – train as if your life depended on it.

Unauthorized Visitors

An unauthorized visitor or trespasser is someone who the hotel doesn’t permit to remain on its premises. This can include those who aren’t guests of the hotel and guests who lost the privilege of remaining on-site. A welcomed guest becomes a trespasser as the hotel sees fit for the following reasons:

  • Refusal to pay a bill
  • Become obnoxious or threatening to other guests and staff members
  • Becoming a person of general bad reputation
  • Behaving in a disorderly manner
  • Other forms of misconduct

Unauthorized visitors may pose a threat to others as it’s difficult to take into account who’s entering and leaving the property. Although there may be a person present who actually booked the room themselves, inviting additional guests to the room is often no permitted. For example, hotel parties may disturb other guests and leads to an high risk of property damage.

Theft

Unfortunately, tales of an unwanted guest breaking into a hotel room and stealing personal possessions aren’t unheard of. We may hear stories of those who travel return to their hotel rooms to realize that their valuables. A few things hotel managers can do to minimize theft on their properties is to ensure all locking systems work. Installing a door lock where guests need a key or access card to enter is the most straightforward solution. Inside, guests should have access to a safe, or a secure location to store their valuables. Limit the amount of hotel staff members who have access to each room. It’s well known that surveillance cameras help deter crime and theft. Make sure that your camera systems are placed in key areas to eliminate blind spots.

Internal Policies

Sometimes theft happens from your own team. Subsequently, It’s a good idea to conduct thorough background screenings upon hiring each staff member. Having procedures set in place and thorough training can minimize the risk of theft happening. Protocols such as only a select few staff members having access to guest rooms or belongings can help mitigate this.

Proper Training

As always, train like your life depends on it. Regular training and retraining of staff is akin to a well-oiled machine. Having safety procedure and protocols written out in manuals can serve as a quick pick-me-up for staff members. Make sure they are available, easy to read, and ready to use under any circumstance.