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Home > Services > Loss Prevention  > Shoplifting > Implement Shoplifting Policy

Design & Implement an Appropriate Shoplifting Policy

Design & Implement an Appropriate Shoplifting Policy: Post Written Shoplifting Policy, Deterrent, Identify Intention, Foundation for Actions Taken, Staff Training

After evaluating the risk factors described in Evaluate Your Shoplifting Policy Strategies it will be necessary to design and implement your policy.  First, let’s cover the basic ground rules. 

It is important that a retail business has a clearly defined written policy regarding shoplifting.  Many businesses post the shoplifting policy in plain view of customers, much like a return policy. 

A posted shoplifting policy serves as a deterrent to some, but more importantly, it identifies the store’s intentions clearly and can’t be questioned in court.

In the event a shoplifter is apprehended by store employees, arrested by local law enforcement and eventually prosecuted in criminal court, the written policy serves as the company’s foundation for the actions taken.

Shoplifting: A Well-Trained Staff is Your Best Defense

It is critically important that the shoplifting policy is explained to all employees, along with its attentive responsibilities.  Primarily, the policy orientation and training serves to educate the store employees about the methods and tactics to be utilized and job specific requirements store employees are responsible for maintaining when responding to a shoplifting incident.

In addition, recurrent management and staff training establishes a record of diligent effort to seek adherence for consistent application of your designated policy.  In the event that an agent of your business goes beyond the written, trained guidelines your retail store has established, you, as the employer are ultimately responsible.

The ability to demonstrate that your company took diligent measures to avoid the specific problem may help prevent a finding of negligence.  The courts tend to be more unforgiving when gross negligence can be demonstrated.

A Shoplifting Policy is Just the Beginning of a Good Loss Prevention Program

A ‘Shoplifting Policy’ should not be a stand alone document, but rather, it should be a piece of an overall Loss Prevention Program that has been designed specifically for your business. A loss prevention professional with appropriate training, experience and technological expertise should be utilized when designing any Loss Prevention Program.

The actual Shoplifting Policy components should be selected from among the dozens of available, proven strategies to fight the issue that have been developed by retail loss prevention professionals over time.  Examples of various components include the following:

  1. Determining the company’s stance and approach regarding shoplifting and writing a comprehensive policy detailing same

  2. Conducting training and orientation for new-hires, hourly employees and store management to educate them on their responsibilities and the techniques they are required to utilize

  3. Designing a floor plan that improves sightlines for employees and eliminates ‘blind spots’ within a store that might be conducive to concealing an item of merchandise

  4. Utilization of one of the many article surveillance packages that are available from security vendors and loss prevention consultants

  5. Designing and implementing pro-active customer service techniques designed to assist an honest customer and deter a potentially dishonest one by maintaining frequent interaction while on the sales floor

  6. Increasing the number of employees on duty to provide better coverage on the sales floor during high-traffic hours of operation, nights and weekends

  7. Retaining a Loss Prevention staff to be specifically responsible for all aspects of the Shoplifting Policy as well as additional Loss Prevention duties

  8. Installing a camera system designed to deter and/or apprehend shoplifters within the store

  9. Investing in security cages or other physical measures to protect expensive, frequently shoplifted items

  10. Placing empty boxes on shelves and notifying customers that they must contact a store employee to obtain the item from a stock area

  11. High theft, expensive, and/or easily concealed items should be stored in areas that are continuously monitored by employees

  12. Conducting spot-checks and Loss Prevention audits to verify that the Shoplifting Policy is being complied with and physical security measures are being maintained

  13. Initiate a discount program for law enforcement officers with the goal of increasing their visits to your store and being more frequently visible in the store

  14. Communicate with other retailers in your strip center, mall or general area.  Communicate with other stores in your chain and/or competitors.  Exchange information routinely on shoplifting incidents, providing specific information when possible.

  15. Conduct store meetings on a frequent basis and invest time discussing the store’s performance in fighting shoplifting.  Review both positive and negative examples of recent incidents and use them as teaching and awareness tools

  16. Invest in some of the many anti-shoplifting signage packages that are available.  Post signs indicating that the company prosecutes shoplifters to the full extent of the law

This is an incomplete list of the many components your retail store can select from and implement as part of a Shoplifting Policy.  The most difficult and dangerous program component is to adequately train your store employees and management staff on how to respond in the event of an actual shoplifting incident. As documented earlier, shoplifting apprehensions are complicated and stressful in the best of circumstances. 

Attempts to apprehend a shoplifter can be physically dangerous for an untrained associate, and financially devastating for the business.

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. For information about why people shoplift, read Why Do People Shoplift?

It is highly recommended that a Loss Prevention professional should be utilized to design, implement and maintain the program; not only a Shoplifting Policy but also an overall Loss Prevention Program, either from within the company or retained as a consultant.     

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, you can call 317-363-8312, send an email to or submit the short form below:

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