As of my last update in September 2021, I don’t have enough new data on any shoplifting epidemic in the United States. However, shoplifting and retail theft continue to be an escalating issue for retailers, causing economic impacts on both the retail industry and consumers. Let’s discuss the potential effects and implications of shoplifting on the retailer and the consumer.
Economic Impact on Retailers: a. Loss of Revenue: Shoplifting leads to direct financial losses for retailers as stolen merchandise cannot be sold, resulting in a decrease in revenue. b. Increased Security Costs: To combat shoplifting, retailers need to invest in security measures such as surveillance systems, security personnel, and anti-theft technology such as a Sensormatic System. These added expenses can strain a retailer’s budget. c. Higher Insurance Premiums: Frequent theft incidents can lead to higher insurance premiums for retailers, adding further financial burden. d. Cost of Restocking: Replacing stolen items can be costly for retailers, especially if the thefts are frequent or involve high-value goods. e. Impact on Small Businesses: For small retailers, shoplifting can be particularly devastating, potentially leading to closures or financial instability. Smaller Retailers suffer the most because they cannot spread out the losses. In most cases prevention techniques such as employee training, Sensormatic Systems, and CCTV are critical to the small to medium size Retailer.
Impact on Consumers: a. Price Increase: To offset losses from theft and increased security measures, retailers may raise prices on their products, which ultimately affects consumers by increasing the cost of goods. b. Reduced Product Selection: In extreme cases, retailers may discontinue certain products if they are frequently targeted by shoplifters, limiting choices for consumers. c. Impact on Retail Experience: Shoplifting can lead to more stringent security measures, such as increased bag checks or restrictions on browsing, affecting the overall shopping experience for consumers. Application of an Electronic Article Surveillance (EAS) system such as a Sensormatic System protect the Retailer without impacting their customer. d. Loss of Trust: Consumers might lose trust in a retailer if shoplifting incidents are not effectively managed, leading to a negative perception of the brand.
Societal Impact: a. Increased Crime Rates: Shoplifting can contribute to overall crime rates, affecting the safety and security of communities. b. Legal and Law Enforcement Costs: Dealing with shoplifting cases can be burdensome for law enforcement agencies and add to the already-strained legal system. c. Diversion of Resources: The diversion of law enforcement resources to address shoplifting may impact their ability to tackle more serious crimes.
It’s important to note that the situation may have evolved since my last update, and more recent data would be necessary to determine if there is a current shoplifting epidemic in the United States. Addressing shoplifting requires a comprehensive approach involving retailers, law enforcement, and communities working together to minimize its impact and ensure a safer retail environment for everyone.
Shoplifting is a common form of theft that occurs in retail settings, and it’s essential for retailers to understand the different types of shoplifters and the factors that influence when they are most likely to attempt stealing. Shoplifters can be classified into several categories based on their motivations and behaviors. Let’s explore the different types of shoplifters and the times when they are more likely to target retailers:
Amateur Shoplifters: These are individuals who engage in shoplifting impulsively and without much planning. They might steal small items or goods that they personally desire. Amateur shoplifters are often inexperienced and easily deterred. They are more likely to strike during busy shopping periods when there is less attention on individual customers.
Professional Shoplifters: Unlike amateurs, professional shoplifters are well-organized and experienced in stealing merchandise. They often operate in groups and may use distractions or shoplifting tools to evade detection. Professional shoplifters tend to target high-value items that can be easily resold for profit. They might strike during busy periods when store staff is preoccupied and security is spread thin.
Opportunistic Shoplifters: This group includes individuals who spot an easy opportunity to steal, often due to negligence or lack of proper security measures. Opportunistic shoplifters may not have a history of theft but seize the chance when they notice vulnerabilities in the store’s surveillance or employee awareness.
Employee “Shoplifters”: These shoplifters are retail staff members who steal from their own workplace. Employee theft can be particularly damaging as insiders have better knowledge of store operations and security. They may try to conceal their actions by manipulating inventory records or tampering with security systems. Employee shoplifting can happen at any time when they feel they can go undetected.
Addictive Shoplifters: Some individuals shoplift due to underlying psychological issues, such as kleptomania or substance addiction. These shoplifters may not necessarily have a motive to use or sell the stolen items; instead, the act of stealing itself serves as a coping mechanism for their emotional struggles. Addictive shoplifters may strike at any time, and they might be more prone to stealing during stressful periods in their lives.
Flash Mob Shoplifters: In recent years, there have been instances of organized groups, often referred to as “flash mobs,” participating in coordinated shoplifting activities. These groups assemble quickly, overwhelm store personnel, and steal a large quantity of items before dispersing rapidly. Flash mob shoplifting can be challenging to predict, but it often occurs during periods of mass gatherings or events. When are shoplifters most likely to try to steal from a retailer?
Peak Shopping Seasons: Shoplifting incidents tend to increase during peak shopping seasons like holidays (e.g., Christmas, Thanksgiving) when stores are crowded, and staff is busier than usual.
Weekends and Evenings: Shoplifting attempts are more common on weekends and during evening hours when stores are generally busier, and surveillance may be less stringent.
During Sales and Promotions: Shoplifters might take advantage of sales events and promotions when discounts attract more customers, making it easier for them to blend in.
Store Opening and Closing Times: Shoplifters might target stores during opening or closing hours when employees are occupied with setting up or shutting down, and security may be lax.
Understaffed or Overwhelmed Stores: Shoplifters are more likely to strike when stores are understaffed or during busy periods when employees are overwhelmed, making it easier to go unnoticed.
During Distractions: Major in-store events, demonstrations, or entertainment might serve as distractions, enabling shoplifters to take advantage of reduced vigilance. It’s important to note that retailers can take preventive measures to deter shoplifters, such as investing in a Sensormatic System, training staff to identify suspicious behaviors (Loss Prevention Systems does this for you free of charge when you purchase a system), and maintaining good visibility throughout the store. Understanding the different types of shoplifters and their tendencies can assist retailers in developing effective strategies to combat theft and minimize losses. For more information CONTACT US. You can also VISIT OUR WEBSITE.
Shoplifting incidents can vary in nature and severity, and trends can differ across regions and time periods. While some instances of shoplifting may involve violence, it is important to approach the topic with caution and not generalize based on isolated incidents. Shoplifting-related violence is not necessarily a widespread phenomenon, but retailers should still take precautions to ensure the safety of their employees and customers. Here are some potential strategies retailers can consider:
Employee training: Retailers can provide comprehensive training to their employees on how to handle potentially difficult situations, including shoplifting incidents. This training can include de-escalation techniques, conflict resolution skills, and when to involve security or law enforcement. Loss Prevention Systems provides this LIVE training in person or on-line.
Visible store presence: Maintaining a visible presence of staff and security personnel in the store can act as a deterrent to potential shoplifters. When individuals perceive a higher risk of being caught, they may be less likely to engage in shoplifting or violence.
Effective store layout and surveillance: Retailers can design their stores with clear sightlines and unobstructed views to minimize blind spots. Installing surveillance cameras strategically can help deter theft and provide evidence if incidents occur. However, keep in mind that CCTV is more “after the fact”. There is some deterrence value however, there are better methods for prevention.
Collaboration with law enforcement: Establishing strong relationships with local law enforcement agencies can be beneficial. Retailers can work together with the police to share information, report incidents promptly, and coordinate efforts to prevent and address shoplifting incidents. You should set up an in person meeting with a member of your local law enforcement agency. Have them give you input about your stores vulnerabilities, how they respond and what other measures they can provide such as more frequent marked patrol car drive byes, walking patrol…. You should make it clear that they are always welcome in your store and encourage them to stop by. A cup of coffee, bottle of water…. sends the right message. Most law enforcement agencies have “Zone” type meetings, crime prevention meetings… You should join and go every time. This will keep you up to date on crime in your specific area.
Technology-based solutions: Retailers can explore the use of advanced security technologies, such as electronic article surveillance (EAS) systems like a Sensormatic System, RFID tagging, video analytics, and inventory management systems. These technologies can help detect theft attempts, track inventory, and improve overall store security. Again, Loss Prevention Systems has all of these technologies and we sell, install and service nationwide.
Safety protocols and emergency planning: Retailers should develop and communicate clear safety protocols to their employees in case of emergencies or violent situations. This may involve creating evacuation plans, implementing panic buttons on your burglar alarm system. These panic buttons should be installed in places that employees can retreat to in the event of an emergency. Having them at the POS is fine but, the back office, stock rooms are better. Train your staff on how to respond appropriately in different scenarios.
It’s important for retailers to conduct a thorough risk assessment based on their specific store locations, customer demographics, and historical incidents to determine the most appropriate security measures to implement. Consulting with a Loss Prevention Expert or industry associations can provide valuable insights tailored to the retail environment.
A Sensormatic anti-shoplifting system can be an effective solution to help deter and prevent shoplifting incidents in busy retail environments, especially during high-demand shopping periods. Sensormatic is a leading brand that offers a range of electronic article surveillance (EAS) solutions designed to enhance security and reduce theft in stores.
Here are several ways in which a Sensormatic anti-shoplifting system can assist you in addressing the shoplifting challenges you mentioned:
Detection and Deterrence: Sensormatic systems typically consist of electronic tags or labels that are attached to merchandise and detection systems installed at store exits. These systems use radio frequency (RF) or acousto-magnetic (AM) technology to trigger an alarm when an item with an active tag or label passes through the detection zone. This acts as a deterrent, as shoplifters are aware that attempting to steal tagged items will likely result in an alarm being raised.
Increased Awareness: The presence of Sensormatic systems in your store can create a perception among potential shoplifters that security measures are in place, discouraging theft attempts. Knowing that the store is equipped with anti-shoplifting technology can make criminals think twice before engaging in illegal activities, particularly during busy periods when the risk of detection is higher.
Reduced Staff Burden: During busy shopping periods, it can be challenging for store staff to effectively monitor all areas and customers at all times. Sensormatic systems act as an extra set of eyes, providing continuous surveillance without requiring constant attention from store personnel. This allows staff to focus on providing quality customer service rather than being solely responsible for detecting and preventing shoplifting.
Time Efficiency: Sensormatic systems are designed to detect shoplifting incidents quickly. When an alarm is triggered, store personnel can respond promptly to investigate the situation and take appropriate action, such as approaching the individual or contacting security personnel. Rapid response time can help minimize potential losses and improve the chances of apprehending shoplifters.
Inventory Management: In addition to their anti-shoplifting capabilities, Sensormatic systems often include features that enhance inventory management. For example, electronic tags or labels can be used for item-level tracking, enabling more accurate stock monitoring and reducing discrepancies between recorded inventory and actual stock levels. This can be particularly useful during high-demand shopping periods, helping to ensure adequate product availability and preventing losses due to theft or misplaced items.
While we know that a Sensormatic anti-shoplifting system can be a valuable asset, it is important to remember that it is not a standalone solution. Implementing comprehensive security measures, such as trained staff, clear store policies, and effective store layout, in conjunction with an anti-shoplifting system, will provide a more robust defense against theft and enhance the overall security of your store.
Liquor store theft is a problem and if a store owner fails to use Sensormatic hard tags on products they could end up with situations like these:
“Foursome sought in theft of liquor at a Cape Coral Publix”, WFTX Digital Team, May 09,2019. This group was believed to have stolen, “…six bottles of Jonnie Walker Black Label, five bottles of Belvedere Vodka, and two bottles of Hennessey.” I did some research and it appears that a total value of $500 would be a middle of the road estimate for the stolen merchandise.
“Man walks out of Costco with 24 bottles of Hennessey liquor, police say”, May, 06, 2019 wisn.com. According to this story the suspect took the alcohol and “Officers said he also took a Lorex brand home security system. The goods were worth about $1,500.” The Lorex system could be as much as $999. If this is the unit stolen that means the alcohol was valued at approximately $500.
Interestingly enough while reviewing news articles I also happened upon one titled, “23% drop in thefts show strategy to curb shoplifting working: Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries”, cbc.ca, May 30, 2019. I was curious as to what strategies this business has employed to make such an impact. According to the article several strategies are now being used which include adding new Loss Prevention Officers, “checking customers’ ID at the doors of Liquor Marts, using bottle locks (added emphasis mine) and lockable shelf cases, and requiring customers to ask sales staff for high-value bottles.” While I am not a fan of locking showcases or making merchandise inaccessible I AM in favor of using the Sensormatic systems Bottle Cap Tag to prevent theft.
In my opinion it only makes sense to use alternatives to locking showcases whenever possible. Showcases require too much attention on the part of store employees to assist patrons who want to get something out of lock-up. Employees could be ringing up other transactions, upselling or suggestive selling merchandise to new customers or even be completing tasks. To stop what you are doing simply to unlock merchandise you have locked up to stop shoplifting is poor use of resources. Sensormatic hard tags are an alternative to locking showcases. Shoppers can select what they want and continue to browse a store (which often leads to more sales) without waiting on an employee who may not be able to assist for several minutes. Not only does the patron begin to look at their watch as the minutes tick by they may feel pressured to hurry up and leave. The risk of losing the sales increases and the more time that goes by the less inclined they will be to look around and perhaps add to their shopping basket.
Locking up merchandise may stop shoplifting but it also hinders sales. Those stores that use a Sensormatic systems and Sensormatic hard tags have nearly the same level of security as stores that use the display cases but also have better opportunities to increase sales. But you may be wondering how a Bottle Cap Tag on a bottle of Hennessey can be better protection than that lock-up case. The Bottle Cap Tag has electronic article surveillance built in so if a crook attempts to walk out with a stolen bottle the alarm pedestals will alert store employees to the criminal activity. The vast majority of shoplifters are not anxious to set off alarms and be seen. They know that most stores have security cameras and will review them and then contact police. The other thing is the bottle tag covers the top of the bottle. The cap of the bottle cannot be removed without breaking the bottle defeating the purpose of stealing in the first place.
In my Loss Prevention experiences I have worked extensively with Sensormatic systems so I am keenly familiar with how much of a deterrent effect they have on shoplifters. I have recovered merchandise dropped by shoplifters when they have set off alarm pedestals. I have also observed potential thieves look at merchandise and then put it back on a shelf when they find it has an anti-shoplifting tag on it. Tagging merchandise is a tactic proven over time to stop shoplifting where it is implemented.
Alcohol theft continues to be a major concern for grocery and alcohol and beverage stores. Failing to protect merchandise only leads to more theft as criminals learn which businesses are easiest to target. That in turn can lead to more serious criminal activity such as robberies and assaults. Using Sensormatic hard tags is the optimum solution for addressing theft and improving sales in the long term.
For more information about Sensormatic hard tags contact us or call 1.770.426.0547