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Sonitrol Commercial Security Blog ... by Joe Wilson



How to Protect Your Retail Store From Shoplifting

Posted by Joe Wilson

Aug 31, 2021 8:46:00 AM

Protect Retail Store

There are ongoing reports of crime being down in Canada this past year. While that may be true on average for the country and provinces, some areas are seeing increases. 

One example is Vancouver, which saw a 260% increase in shoplifting involving a weapon in 2020 compared to 2019. And as restrictions are further reduced and more customers are allowed to be in stores at a time, it may become more difficult to monitor and reduce shoplifting, even in areas where there have been strong declines. 

So what can you do as a business owner to enhance retail security and better protect your staff and customers? Here are four tips for detecting and deterring shoplifters.

1 - Train employees to spot suspicious behaviour 

As businesses begin to reopen, it’s important to retrain your staff on how to identify suspicious behaviours that are characteristic of shoplifters. 

This includes patrons who: 

  • Look around the store repeatedly
  • Visit the property often, without buying anything 
  • Wear baggy clothes or carry large bags 
  • Avoid eye contact 
  • Circle the store multiple time without picking anything up to look at it 

You also want to watch for large groups of people, especially if they spread out. This can be done to distract you and stop you from focusing on any one spot for a long enough time to detect suspicious behaviour. 

2 - Have procedures in place 

Once your employees know how to identify a shoplifter, they need to know what to do. Your policy should include: 

  • How the employee should approach the customer, if at all – sometimes a simple greeting or asking the customer if they want help is enough to deter a would-be criminal.
  • Whether all employees are responsible for talking to potential suspects or whether they should get a manager.
  • When it’s time to alert the manager or call the police.
  • How first incidents will be handled (warnings, trespass, charges etc.)

Staff should be properly trained and comfortable with executing the protocol. But it’s important to remember that your staff and customers safety comes first, especially if there is a suspected weapon involved. 

Remind your staff that they should pay attention but are not meant to play the hero. 

3 - Consider your stores layout 

Most shoplifters know how to recognize an easy target. These stores are usually cluttered and have lots of nooks and crannies that don’t have a good line of sight to staff. There are also lots of high shelves, signage, tight spaces and small items throughout. 

To help make your store more unattractive use a more open layout with good lines of sight. Keep small or popular items close to the register and use bright lighting. When possible, have the registers close to the door so that patrons have to walk past you to exit the store. 

4 - Invest in monitored and verified security 

Verified alarm surveillance not only catches crimes in the act, it can act as a deterrent to criminals. It can also help resolve any disputes arising from how an employee handled a possible shoplifting situation. 

If you are going to invest in surveillance, consider monitored video surveillance. Unlike regular CCTVs that can only be used after the fact, monitored systems have professionals who verify crimes as they happen - meaning they can dispatch and guide law enforcement to the criminal, increasing the rate of apprehension. 

So if you feel like your business is at high risk for shoplifting and are looking for a solution to keep your team safe and catch criminals, contact us today for a free security audit.

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Joe Wilson, Owner of Sonitrol Western Canada

We provide our customers with the best commercial security solutions and quality service backed by our unique Guarantee and Commitment to Service. It's something unverified conventional alarm companies simply cannot guarantee!

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