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Home > Services > Loss Prevention  > Shoplifting > Evaluate Policy Strategies

Evaluate Your Shoplifting Policy Strategies

Evaluate Your Shoplifting Policy Strategies: Retail Store / Business, Evaluation Criteria, Type of Store / Merchandise, Location, Customer Service, Sight Lines

After reviewing both ‘extreme’ alternatives in "Shoplifting: Dealing with a Major Problem", 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 will examine the factors that should be evaluated when attempting to find the optimal approach to fighting shoplifting in a retail store environment.  It is essential to identify the type of retail business being evaluated and consider specific characteristics to determine the most effective strategy to employ.

Shoplifting Policy Evaluation Criteria

Some businesses are much more likely to be targeted by shoplifters than others.  It is important to have an understanding of your store or business from that perspective.  The type of products sold is a primary factor in their likelihood of being shoplifted

Merchandise that is universally needed, desired or used is often stolen so it can be resold on the ‘street’. Today, the ‘street’ also includes the internet.  Large quantities of all varieties of stolen merchandise are sold on e-bay and other on-line sales sites.

  • Some businesses, such as a bakery selling pastries, pies and wedding cakes are a very rare shoplifting target due to the nature of the products offered.

  • Furniture stores and appliance stores are also difficult targets due to the size of the majority of the products.  (These businesses have more severe challenges from an internal theft and fraud perspective.)

  • A hardware store, drug store, or clothing store on the other hand, are more susceptible as they will attract different types of customers and offer products much more conducive to concealment, theft and potential resale. These retailers realize that to effectively market their products they must be displayed and available for customers to pick up, handle, examine and hopefully purchase.

  • Other retail stores have most, if not all their products enclosed in cases, such as a jewelry store, or behind a counter like a NAPA automotive parts supplier.  The opportunity for a would-be shoplifter is greatly reduced in these environments.

  • ‘Big Box’ retailers, such as home improvement centers and membership discount stores, typically provide much less one-on-one personal customer service than smaller, more intimate sales-person oriented stores.

The degree to which your store meets, greets and stays with customers, and the number of sales people assigned to the floor greatly impacts a potential shoplifter’s ability to commit an act of theft.  As will be discussed later, shoplifters do not like good customer service techniques and are deterred to a degree by even receiving a simple greeting upon entering a store.

A national chain of video rental stores trains its employees to greet every customer that enters with a simple ‘Welcome to our store’ greeting primarily because studies have shown this reduces the incidence of shoplifting.  Stores with more sales people on the floor deter shoplifting in addition to providing better and quicker customer service.

The physical layout of the store plays a significant role in a shoplifter’s evaluation of their risks and opportunities.  A store with good sightlines for employees is a deterrent to shoplifting.  Sightlines are affected by the placement, size and height of fixtures, shelves, display cases, signage, case-good build-outs and P.O.S. (Point of Sale) terminals or cash registers.

Customer traffic control devices such as turnstiles, rails, ropes and stanchions also affect the shoplifter’s environment.  Other important physical factors to consider include ease of access and egress, proximity of exterior doors to the sales floor, restroom accessibility and store interior lighting.

The neighborhood or locale where the store is located has a great impact on shoplifting issues.  High crime rates, high population density and high customer traffic typically present more challenges to a store owner than more remote, slower-paced environments for obvious reasons.  A store with a history of high shoplifting losses will typically need to invest more assets in deterring or apprehending shoplifters than a location with few documented losses or no known history.

As stated earlier, the statutes and law enforcement response to shoplifting are varied throughout the country.  The issue of shoplifting loss has received more attention and focus in some commercial-friendly locales, and specific laws have been put in place to assist the retail store owners and managers fight the problem.

Conversely, some cities are either not equipped to devote law enforcement resources to the issue or have simply not deemed shoplifting a priority.  A pro-business climate regarding this issue is certainly an asset to any owner and should be considered when determining where to locate a new retail venture.        

After evaluating the factors described above it will be necessary to design and implement your policy.  You can read more about how to do it successfully at Implement an Appropriate Shoplifting Policy.

Deterring The Shoplifter

Stores that take pro-active measures to deter shoplifting and also have policies, personnel and/or equipment in place to assist in apprehending shoplifters will be avoided by the professionals and make casual, spontaneous shoplifters seriously reconsider their impulses.

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 or submit the short form below:

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