If your business steps up in the fall months, so should your security. It’s an unfortunate reality that there are a lot of would-be shoplifters out there, just waiting for the right moment to be lost in a crowd so that your merchandise can get lost too.

Recognizing Would-be Shoplifters

There is no “profile” of the person who shoplifts. It can be anyone, and the act of shoplifting has become more prevalent in recent years. In fact, the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention calculates that there are 550,000 incidents per day, with shoplifters stealing $13 billion worth of goods, and costing retailers $35 million in losses. The Association also notes that one in 11 Americans shoplift, but shoplifters are caught only once in every 49 times they try to steal.

Training your staff to recognize the disguises of shoplifters is a wise investment on your part, as is the investment in increased security. Here are a few of the people to watch and ways to watch them:

Keep an eye on:

• Someone who is carrying an oversized tote, briefcase, bookbag or purse
• Groups of people who may scatter as they enter the store
• Someone who is wearing baggy clothes or inappropriate clothes for the weather
• Someone who takes several items into the dressing room and comes out with only one
• People carrying shopping bags that don’t seem full from other stores
• People who seem to be lingering or only “pretending” to look at merchandise
• Anyone who tries to distract you from the area

Easy ways to discourage shoplifting by upgrading your store security:

• Train employees to greet customers and ask if they are looking for something specific. This lets the person know they have been seen and are being watched.
• Place two-way mirrors or cameras in plain sight in the store.
• Position valuable merchandise away from the door and in a locked display case.
• Display signs in visible areas telling customers that you have a security system and that shoplifters will be prosecuted.
• When executing a transaction at the register, make sure employees check inside items for other hidden merchandise. For example, smaller items stuffed in shoes or gloves, actual make-up or boxes inside a make-bag, or clothing or shoes in a piece of luggage or a purse the customer is purchasing.
• Make sure your store design is clean and aisles are visible so you can see the customers at all times.