Quick Tips to Help Avoid Theft in Your Store

Theft. It’s an ugly word that unfortunately, too many merchants deal with.

Whether you call it “boosting” or “shrinkage,” retail store is theft is a serious shoplifting problem that can cause severe damage to independent retailers. When you signed up to be your own boss and own an independent store, you likely didn’t add this to your wish list of things to manage. But it needs to be on your everyday to-do-list, and like it or not, it needs to always remain a top priority. Here are a few ways to make it easier, as well as some solutions to help keep theft at a minimum or better yet, nonexistent in your store.

Know Your Risks 

Your store, your layout, your inventory, your business. No one knows your store better than you – plain and simple. Then again, are you Sherlock Holmes?

To help know where you are must vulnerable for theft in your store, consider the following:

1. What areas are the least monitored or have little line of sight from your register area / desk? These are often corners, shelving areas, changing rooms and random nooks that often look pretty – but are also pretty easy to steal from.

2. How many small items do you sell that are easy to “pocket” or stuff into a handbag or other shopping bag? These are examples often common items that are also commonly stolen due to size alone… jewelry, lotions, magnets, keychains, lipstick, candy and accessories. When you place these items in high risk areas – such as those mentioned above – you are at a stronger risk of being stolen from.

3. Are your high valued items kept close to you… of merchandised further away? If you sell high priced items, such as diamonds, technology based products or even various accessories, it’s important to consider where they are merchandised. Even if your whole store is considered high value, it’s vital to consider how you merchandise as a result and what “rules” you have in place for dressing rooms and customers engaging with products, in general. Sales associates should be trained to always monitor shoppers, as well, and never leave your sales floor… even for a quick second to get something “in back”.

Accept That Your Store Design DOES Matter 

Retail store layouts can help increase sales… and theft. If overlooked, you can miss out on stronger sales but meanwhile, gain stronger shoplifting. Consider how the below tips may help you:

  • Place your point of sale, check out area in a central location between the store layout / merchandise and the exit. This helps your team manage the store with a more centralized view and also shows potential thieves you are in the middle of everything – something they hate.
  • Create an easy to see line of sight from your check out area that allows you and your team to see customers are they shop your store. Shoplifters are less likely to steal if they think they are being watched. It really can be that simple.
  • Clean your store often and keep up with inventory management. Sure, POS systems help with inventory management these days… but a strong retail eye can be powerful in identifying if something seems off, has been stolen or hopefully has simply been moved in the store. A tidy space helps makes this easier – and shoplifters feel less confident in getting away with their crime, as well.

A few other tips to consider? “Dummy” security cameras help steer off thieves (though we love real ones, too) and signage speaks volumes. Here are a few examples:

  • “Shoplifters will be prosecuted”
  • “Please ask an employee for access to the dressing room”
  • “Employees Only”

It’s your store, your business, your priority. Be sure you’re looking at store theft as just that. 


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