Every retail operation worries about shoplifting. Next to employee theft, shoplifting is one of the more destructive crimes in the American retail industry. Often viewed as a victimless crime due to the proliferation of retail insurance, this criminal practice costs retailers over $45 billion per year and accounts for more than 40% of total retail loss. Those are some significant statistics that directly affect you as a retail owner or manager, so it’s important for you to understand the nuances of this criminal enterprise.
Let’s examine some of the facts about shoplifting that you may not know and dispel some of the myths that are commonly taken as fact about shoplifting.
Fact One: There is no typical shoplifter.
According to the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention, it’s almost impossible to typecast a shoplifter. Men and women shoplift equally but age may be a factor. Approximately 25% of shoplifters are childr and 75% are adults. 55% of those adult shoplifters say they started shoplifting in their teens.
Fact Two: It’s often an invisible crime.
There are lots of reasons that retailers don’t always catch shoplifters in their stores. First there’s the fact that many people shop for and pay for items at the same time they are shoplifting, which makes them appear to many shopkeepers as a perfectly legitimate customer. That invisibility becomes a problem, though, when a light-fingered customer boosts a $400 iPhone at the same time they’re purchasing something small.
Fact Three: Popular stores will also boost shoplifting.
You’ve integrated video surveillance and other loss prevention strategies and your store is stocked well with the right amount of employees. So why are you still losing products? Security experts say that even though it might seem counterintuitive, the busiest stores with the most sought-after merchandise are more likely to see their shoplifting losses rise as well.
And now let’s look at the myths around shoplifting.
Myth One: Shoplifting is done by poor people who steal because they need the money.
Actually, there are a wide variety of reasons that people shoplift including desperation, psychological problems, obsessive-compulsive disorders and thrill seeking. Keep in mind that according to the National Retail Federation, the most shoplifted items include chewing gum, Advil, the weight-loss drug Alli, cellphones, Claritin, Rogaine, Red Bull energy drinks, Dyson vacuums, Bumble and Bumble hair products, Cover Girl cosmetics, Crest Whitestrips, and deodorant. This list doesn’t exactly portray shoplifters stealing a loaf of bread to feed their children.
Myth Two: Rich people don’t shoplift because they don’t need to.
Actually, there are widespread reports of rich and famous people who have been convicted of shoplifting from retail stores.
Myth Three: Shoplifting is a crime that emerged in the modern age.
Like many other criminal acts, shoplifting has been around as long as shopping has been. Many examples still exist from Shakespearean London of pamphlets advising shoplifters how not to get caught.
Myth Four: Stores have foolproof ways to stop shoplifters.
Unfortunately shoplifters, especially professional thieves, are pretty crafty. Over the years they have discovered a wide variety of methods for counteracting security measures. Among the techniques employed by thieves through the years are “booster bags,” hidden pockets, new technologies and other methods of bypassing security systems. The best bet for retail managers these days is to employ an advanced video surveillance system with integrated analytics to offer the best and most reliable visibility into all aspects of a retail operation. In addition to providing valuable evidence against shoplifters, video surveillance also offers advantages in terms of marketing products, staffing your retail operation with employees, monitoring fraudulent transactions and planning customer service and traffic operations.