Small Business Tips: Tips for Minimising Shoplifting

When I started researching this article I was aghast at the number of robberies that occur in Australia every year. Over 15,000 robberies were recorded by the Australian Institute of Crime for 2009. Shoplifting is becoming a major problem for small business however there are strategies that you can implement to minimise the chance of someone stealing from you.The staggering figure is that over half of all small businesses have been a victim of crime and on average will lose $7,800 a year due to shoplifting and burglary. Whilst certain business types and industries are more prone to robberies such as corner stores, pharmacies, newsagencies and bottle shops, any small business can be affected by this type of crime.There are some simple steps that you can implement to help minimise your shop being a shoplifting victim.
The first step is to ensure that you have a clearly articulated policy for shoplifters. The policy should identify how you will deal with a shoplifter and how you handle them if you catch someone. We know from research that companies that have a strong shoplifter policy and a tough prosecution policy is less likely to be a target of shoplifting. Mind you it doesn’t guarantee that you won’t have a problem.The best deterrent from theft is to have staff that are always on the lookout for people who look as though they may be up to no good. A good camera system is also another great deterrent but the reality is that most professional crooks don’t care about the cameras. I have seen footage of theft gangs that just don’t care if they get caught or are seen on camera. Surveillance cameras are also becoming a very important tool in prosecuting the offenders because they provide undisputable proof of the offence.The key with shoplifting is to catch them before they leave your store so having staff walking around the isles and a camera system will provide you with the best line of defence. Other tools that do work as well are convex mirrors, two ways mirrors and peepholes at key points and positions in your store. Always ensure that there are no dead areas in your store where potential thieves can actually steal the physical products.When it comes to staff management ensure that you assign a staff member to different areas of the store and make it their responsibility to protect those areas. Another simple technique is to encourage your staff to greet any visitor to your store. This will often put the potential crook on the back foot.There are some key things to look for when you are monitoring your store:1. Monitor you customers to see if they maintain eye contact. Quite often a shoplifter will have shaking hands and their eyes will be constantly looking around2. Watch for customers who simply wander through the store whilst trying to avoid your staffs attention3. Customers with baggy clothes and in particular hoodies are a major concern especially if the weather doesn’t match their clothes4. Monitor your colleagues to see if they are distracted whilst one of their accomplices may actually be doing the theft.Finally it should be store policy that all bags, boxes, purses and cases are subject to an inspection prior to leaving the store. You should also include anti-shoplifting signs in your store to ensure that everyone knows you take shoplifting seriously.Whilst no one of these tips will actually stop a theft, they will certainly help you in minimising the chance that your small business will be a victim of shoplifting.