You can basically put shoplifters into two specific groups. One is the professional that steals for a living. They have things planned out ahead of time, and they know more about your store than you think. They typically know when you have the least number of employees in the store, when you are busiest and most distracted, and when you get deliveries. The other group are the non-professionals. This category consists of the thrill seekers and the opportunists. In order to Prevent Shoplifting Loss, you should have a plan to deal with both groups.
In reality, professionals are harder to stop. They come in frequently and they are highly aware of their surroundings. They can be bold, or spooked easily, so their erratic behaviors when they think they are about to be caught can make them dangerous. In my experiences through the years, I have found it best to be proactive with the pro. Plan ahead, get product protection in place, and make eye contact with every person that comes through your door. When it comes to the professional thief, deterrence is the key.
The non-professional shoplifter can actually be the biggest detriment to your bottom line. They do not fit into any set mold. They can be male or female, young or old, rich or poor, and they can be of any ethnicity. Prevent Shoplifting Loss by keeping an open mind and know that even your most regular customer may steal from you.
There are a number of reasons a non-pro will steal. It could be a teenager doing it on a dare. It could be someone unemployed that has a need and can’t pay. It could be a little old lady that thinks your prices are too high. It could be any man or woman that sees something they want, but simply doesn’t want to pay for it. The point is, there are people that steal just because the merchandise and the opportunity are there at the right time.
The good news is there are some behaviors you can look for that may help identify someone stealing or just considering it. It sounds crazy, but it can work. Humans naturally do not want to get caught. A non-professional thief can exhibit certain behaviors that give them away. They will typically be looking around to see where the employees are, quickly looking back down at the merchandise, then back up again. If an employee approaches, they are likely to become very talkative and over-friendly. If you pay close attention, you can see their autonomic nervous system telling on them. Their pulse may be visible in their throat, they may begin to perspire, and their general movements can become shaky. If they know you are watching them, many times they will begin to pick up random items from the shelf and put them right back down.
I have caught a little old lady stealing hair potions. When I approached her at the door, she came back and paid with a large bill. I have caught three young kids stealing condoms; they cried like babies when I asked for their parents’ phone numbers. I caught a middle aged woman with a purse full of beef jerky and fake nails, and I’ll never forget the young man stealing kid’s cough medicine.
They either felt entitled, did it for the “fun” of it, just wanted the stuff for free, or had a perceived need. They were all caught red-handed because of their behaviors. It wasn’t their age, their skin color, and certainly not because of the clothes they were wearing. Prevent Shoplifting Loss with a clear mind, and open eyes.
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