Shoplifting in Australia is on the rise
"Retailers report 70 per cent rise in shoplifting in six years in Queensland" (1), this was the title of an article of the Herald Sun, September 2012. Unfortunately this shoplifting trend is on the rise. According to the article, shoplifting losses nationally climbed to an estimated $7.5 billion in 2011, up from $6.8 billion in 2010 and $4.5 billion in 2006.
QUT School of Business researcher Dr Gary Mortimer said shoplifting is costing Australian retailers (2), at least $10 billion each year.
According to a government report called "Understanding and Controlling Retail Theft", (3) a 2-3 per cent loss of sales to shoplifting can amount to about 25 per cent loss in profit. In order to make the most out of the holiday season and increase profit, retailers need to install store security to combat shoplifting.
Type of Shoplifters
There is another type of shoplifter (4) that comes under the amateur category and it is the Juvenile thieves. They mainly steal for the thrills or because of peer pressure. They act in groups, usually steal recreational items that they are going to use and most of the time they are girls.
Ways of Shoplifting
• "Grab and run"
• Concealing an item with newspapers, Coats, Gloves, Umbrellas, nappy bags...
• Removal of packaging, this technique removes any electronic tagging and give the impression of a used item.
• Switching the price tag
• Refund fraud
Common Stolen Items
According to a 2011 report from the Australian Institute of Criminology, the most commonly stolen items are women clothing, health and beauty products, music, and videos. The least stolen items were found to be men clothing and household furnishings. (Clarke 1999) (5). Clarke developed an acronym CRAVED to summarise the factors, which make an items attractive to thieves. "Concealable, Removable, Available, Valuable, Enjoyable, Disposable." (1999, p. Vi) (5)
Table 4 is taken from a report of the Crime and Prevention of NSW (6) and it provides an overview of the top three most stolen merchandise and their share in each market. When compared with international markets, the majority of items that are most-stolen in NSW are consistent with international trends. "It would seem then that shoplifter's target the same items all over the world and as mentioned tend to focus on small and easily concealed, expensive, branded merchandise."(6)
• Using customer services
o Greet every customer that enters the store so that the potential thief feels watched.
o Tell staff to make frequent eye contact with customers browsing on their own
o Assign zones to your staff so all areas of the store are being watched
o Implement a procedure for bags brought by customers
o If you notice any suspicious activity alert all staff
o If you notice suspicious behaviours, approach the person and ask if he/she needs help and let her/him know that you will be near.
o Make sure your staff is attentive to the price tag and push them to ask for a price check if unsure
• Using Security accessories
o Maintain adequate lighting,
o Install security mirrors to secure "blind spot"
o Use Magnetic Security Device such as SI Retail's Stop Lock
o Use anti-shoplifting signs to scare the potential thief
o If you have a big store, make frequent "fake" announcement about store security to scare shoplifters
• Using a clever store layout
o Design the store so that customers must pass the register area to exit the store
o Block off unused checkout aisles
o Do not display merchandise near the exit
o Keep the store tidy
o Lower displays around the cash register which block the cashier's view of the store
o Store small, expensive items in locked cabinet, behind the counter or add a stop lock
o Be mindful of product placement for all the risky items
o Depending on the size of your store, add a bell to notify your staff when a person enter the store
o Keep the fixtures low near the entry and exit so you have a clear view of the traffic
o Keep the windows clear so that the store is visible from the outside
o Shelving above shoulder height should have security mirrors to ensure staff can see customers on the other side
o Position the gondolas so that aisles are visible from the register
• Implement policies and procedures
o To help your staff deal with shoplifters
o To clearly communicate important policies such as the bag check policy
o Keep a record of the items most commonly stolen from your store.
(5) Clarke, R. V. 1999, Hot products: Understanding, anticipating and reducing demand for stolen goods, Police Research Series Paper 112, Policing and reducing Crime Unit, Home Office, London.