Tips to minimise shoplifting over the festive season

Scenario: A strongly suspected shop lifter enters your store – she is a regular and you have very strong suspicion about her – you spend some time following her – you note she goes to the change room with more clothes than she returns. She leaves the shop and you are sure that she has stolen goods on her.

You follow her out of the store and gently tap her on the shoulder and introduce yourself as the LPM of the store and ask her if she will accompany you back to the store for a private conversation.

What happens next in behaviour can result in prosecution of the shop lifter or at the other extreme costly litigation to your company.

I am no expert but according to my research you are trained to observe the flowing steps

  • Approach
  • Selection
  • Concealment
  • Passing all points of sale
  • Exiting – particularly where the POS is not near the door

LPM’s are pressured into getting results and this is a good time to ensure you are calm and adrenaline levels are controlled. A big problem for our LPM’s in Australia is that the shop lifter could be a regular and have a warrant and/or could be under the influence of a substance.

This is when you must follow your stores practises – ensure you are well aware of them.

In the mean time …

Shoplifting Principles to Remember:

1. The “Food on a Plate” Principle— The smell of the food while it’s cooking on the grill is mouth-watering. The problem is, bugs like the smell too. What invariably happens when you put an open plate of food on an outside table? You invite every insect in the neighbourhood to join you. The same goes for the high-dollar merchandise in your store.

Just as you wouldn’t put a plate of food on that table uncovered, you shouldn’t put expensive merchandise on display unprotected. You will invite every dishonest person who walks past to help themselves. Merchandise that is prone to theft must be presented as “false opportunity” to any would-be thieves. In other words, it may not be covered or locked up, but someone is keeping an eye on it. Keep unprotected items away from the doors. Most “grab and run” thefts occur with unprotected merchandise placed too close to an exit door.

2. The “Spread the Butter” Principle— Whether it’s paying for a security system or hiring detectives, a good CCTV system you only have so much money to spend. Don’t spread your coverage so thin that it doesn’t have a chance to be effective.

3. The “Opposites” Principle—The Opposites Principle begins with taking the time to study people. An ordinary customer might look and even act like a shoplifter, but a shoplifter will not look and act like an ordinary customer. Start noticing the following clues that may indicate a potential shoplifter:

Sudden head turns—As you walk past an aisle, the person shopping in the aisle quickly lifts or turns their head to notice you. If they are about to conceal something, they are looking up to see if you are watching them. This person is either nervous (why?), very observant, or up to something.

Eye movements—If a person is more concerned with watching other people than the merchandise in front of them, there is probably a reason. In most cases, when someone is stealing, their eyes will give them away. A normal customer is unconcerned with other shoppers. One thing you cannot do is make eye contact with a potential shoplifter. That will give you away almost every time.

What is going into the dressing room —Notice what items people take into their change rooms and ensure they return the same goods. A shoplifter will usually take merchandise to another location in the store to conceal it.

If you stay on the lookout for these signs, you’ll notice that not all customers are who they appear to be. A normal customer may exhibit some of these tendencies. Usually, a combination of several will tell you there is a potential shoplifter in your midst.

Good Luck in this festive period – may your losses be minimal to zero

Extracts from: Tips on how to stop shoplifting Contributors to this Special Report include Johnny Custer, LPC, CFI; Victor Sellers; Natt O. Reifler and Marisa C. McIntyre, Esq.; Peter Berlin; Caroline Cardone and Read Hayes, Ph.D., CPP; Hal Cunningham; Matt Lincoln; Officer James Carrol; Herman O. Laskey, Jr., LPQ, CFI; and Frank Muscato and Jack Pearson

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