Shoplifting: Dealing with a Major Problem
Shoplifting: Dealing with a Major Problem, Loss Prevention, Training
Seminars, Security Equipment, Video Monitoring Systems, Electronic
Shoplifting (theft) is an enormous issue in the retail world that results in
hundreds of millions of dollars in loss each year. In addition, companies spend
tens of millions of dollars annually on Loss Prevention Departments in
executive salaries, store-level personnel, training seminars and
equipment such as video monitoring systems, electronic article surveillance and
other products designed to deter shoplifters and provide Loss Prevention
personnel with tools to combat the issue.
In addition, each year
thousands of employees will be injured by a shoplifter directly or in
some other way as they are attempting to detain a shoplifter while at
work. The medical, insurance, and legal expense related to treating
these injured employees is staggering.
Add in the administrative expense
and lost productive time involved when a theft case is prosecuted and
payment of settlements when a case turns 'bad' and you begin to get a true
picture of the overall cost of this crime.
What to Do About Shoplifting
Business has little choice
but to pass these expenses along to consumers with price increases.
Crime index statistics and business surveys conducted all reveal that
the problem is growing steadily with each passing year, despite the
expenditures to combat it noted above.
Let's examine the response alternatives that a business might consider relative to the
problem of shoplifting. Each of the alternatives has positive and
negative ramifications, so it's important to thoroughly consider all
options and find a balanced approach that suits your business. We'll
start with a couple radical options and move on from there.
Shoplifting Policy Option #1 - 'Do Nothing'
Initially, you might think this is ridiculous and not an option at all, but consider the
positive ramifications before you move on. By 'Doing Nothing' to prevent shoplifting you will:
- Incur no expense for Loss Prevention personnel, employee training or equipment
related to shoplifting deterrence or apprehension
- Eliminate the risk of having an employee, or suspect, injured during a
shoplifting 'stop' or incident
- Avoid all court appearances, non-productive administrative time and legal
expenses associated with prosecution efforts
- Never be sued for a 'bad stop'
Does this option still seem ridiculous? It is. Officially adopting a policy of 'Doing
Nothing' to fight shoplifting is unrealistic and will almost certainly
result in the following negative consequences:
- Shoplifting losses in your store will increase dramatically as the 'word
on the street' gets out and probably cause you to go out of business
- Many employees will quickly rationalize that you "don't care about stealing"
and internal theft will increase radically in frequency and severity
- The few employees who don't become involved in internal theft will become
frustrated, disheartened and their moral will significantly decline
- All other forms of external crime and those who perpetrate it, such as
‘quick change artists’, counterfeiters, and other con artists will begin
to frequent your store looking for an easy target
‘Doing Nothing’ to fight
shoplifting has certain benefits, but as you can see, it is a formula
for disaster and will never be a successful strategy in today’s business
environment. Let’s examine another approach.
Option #2 – ‘ Do Everything’
Now that you’re
convinced the ‘Do Nothing’ policy option will not work, let’s consider
the opposite end of the spectrum. By promoting a ‘Do Everything’
anti-shoplifting effort within your store you can expect certain
positive ramifications such as:
Shoplifting losses will decline in your store
Employees will be deterred from involvement in internal theft
Other external crimes will decrease to some degree and the perpetrators of
those criminal acts will be more likely to avoid your store
Now let’s consider the downside of the ‘Do Everything’ shoplifting
- High Expenses for Loss
Prevention personnel, employee and management training, and security
equipment will be significant and ongoing. These costs will reduce
- The likelihood of
personal injury increases due to over-zealous employees, frequency
of apprehensions and shoplifters fighting back while attempting to
- The administrative
costs of the program will greatly increase. As shoplifting
apprehensions and arrests become more frequent, repeated management
and/or employee court appearances will increase and result in
additional non-productive time
- The incidence of
‘bad stops’ will rise, resulting in legal expenses and possible
settlements which are damaging and costly
Option #3 – ‘The Optimal Approach’
After reviewing both
‘extreme’ alternatives, hopefully you are now better able to understand
why, as stated earlier there is no single best way of responding to the
issue of shoplifting.
Now we need to examine the factors that should be evaluated
when attempting to find the optimal approach to fighting shoplifting in a retail store environment. For information on
this subject, read
Shoplifting Policy Strategies.
Shoplifting will never be completely
eliminated, but it can be deterred and decreased with appropriate effort
and professional loss prevention know-how. For information about
bringing this know-how to your company, call 317-363-8312, send email to
info@SummitLossPrevention.com. or submit the short form below: