To Stop Or To Deter Thieves To Prevent Shoplifting; Tips To Help You Decide The Approach That Fits Your Needs – Part 2
In part 1 of this article I reviewed how store managers/owners can decide if they are going to prevent shoplifting by detaining or apprehending shoplifters or are they going to rely on retail anti-theft devices such as Alpha Security products. I also covered some tips for consideration when the decision is made to make apprehensions. People react differently in situations where they are being accused of theft, even when they know they are guilty. In this part of the article I would like to give you some tips on behaviors and actions you can look for to help you have an idea how a suspect is going to react when approached or detained.
I did mention retail anti-theft devices and recognize that some readers may not be aware of these products or how they can be used as a deterrent to shoplifting if you are not comfortable with the idea of approaching or detaining suspected shoplifters. Alpha Security products such as the O Tag, is one example of a family of what are known as electronic article surveillance (EAS) devices. These items operate on a radio frequency (rf) signal and come in the form of soft tags that peel off a roll and come in a variety of sizes to protect items as small as cosmetics, or a boxed item such as large as a television. Hard tags that pin to merchandise, an O Tag that secures around a tube or round object like a golf club and cable locks that can be looped around merchandise and tightened is all made to act in conjunction with EAS towers often located at entry/exit doors of stores. When a tagged item is carried into the detection field of the towers an audible alarm and flashing lights are activated. Trained store employees respond to the alarm and conduct receipt check and recover merchandise and in some cases the alarm actually causes a shoplifter to drop merchandise and flee.
If you have made the decision that you or your store managers or Loss Prevention Associates are going to detain shoplifting suspects here are some tips to help you assess a situation:
• Is the suspect in the store and concealing merchandise? Often it is best to “customer service” someone to prevent shoplifting until they leave. If you know what the person is concealing or attempting to conceal, politely approach them and ask if they need help with whatever the item is. In other words specifically mention the item and by doing so they know that you are aware of what they have and are attempting to do. I have used this approach to point out something someone was hiding under other merchandise and while they were prying at EAS tags. I never accuse them of anything I just offer to help them with it or I can hold it at the register while they continue to shop. Usually they will just leave the store.
• If you are going to allow apprehensions for shoplifting, know your state and local requirements for stopping someone. Some states require the suspect to exit the store while others may permit passing all points of sale. Some states actually allow someone to be stopped for concealment of merchandise and at one time (though I have not checked on it recently) my state actually allowed stopping someone for taking merchandise from one department to another. A chain store may have one governing set of policies so that they are consistent across the board and usually will have the strictest policies. This ensures there is minimal room for making a bad stop which can cost a lot in lawsuits and court time.
• Keep your eye on the suspect at all times, don’t allow yourself to get distracted. A shoplifter will do one of three things, be cooperative, and flee if they see an opportunity to run or fight the person stopping them so they can get away. By keeping an arm length away and watching the person, if they strike out, the strike can be avoided or deflected. At that point let them run, don’t engage in a fight.
• If a suspect runs because retail anti-theft devices like an O Tag activate an alarm, let them go and don’t follow. If a suspect is pursued and were to be hit by a vehicle or injure a party while fleeing, you may be held responsible.
You may be deciding whether or you want to apprehend thieves to prevent shoplifting now and in the future. Whatever your decision, get professional training from Loss Prevention Systems Inc. experts who can guide you in how to handle shoplifters and make an informed decision on how you want to proceed.
Get more information on retail anti-theft devices, contact us or call 1.770.426.0547 today.