How to deal with shoplifting in your store

betterRetailing finds out what steps retailers are taking to reduce shoplifting in their stores

Security CCTV camera

1Amit Puntambekar, Ash’s Shop, Fenstanton, Cambridgeshire

“I don’t think there’s anything you can do to definitely deter it. If someone has decided they’re going to steal, then 80% of the time they’re going to go for it. But we have certain soft measures in place, like getting the staff to wander about the store and talk to people, asking if they need any help.

“We check our stock controls. A dedicated thief will steal, but good stock control is a great way to assess if you’re being stolen from and what’s being taken. After that, you can ask your staff to be more vigilant around those products. We were losing £300 a week in theft of classic products like coffee and cheese. So, we put more staff in and told them to concentrate more on those areas, walking around and checking things. It pretty much knocked the theft on the head within a few weeks. Products to look out for are cheese, coffee, vapes if they’re on the floor and baby milk – anything that people need day to day.”

2John Green, Premier Green End Road, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire

“It’s very difficult to quantify shoplifting’s effect on the store or what affect your measures are having, but I find that vigilance and positivity with customers is key. We live in a large village, and there are lots of people coming in. It’s a matter of conversing with them and getting to know them. They get to know you, and you give them the idea that if they steal from you, they’re almost stealing from a friend. If you treat people with respect, they’ll treat you and your property with respect.

“If it’s children or young people, I make a point of telling their parents, even if I suspect it, because most of the time the parents will be concerned if they find out their kids are shoplifting. I had an incident where a woman confronted me for selling her 12-year-old a bottle of Boost. We knew we wouldn’t have sold it to someone underage, so we checked the CCTV and saw he’d stolen it. I’ve never seen that woman again.”

3Gerald Thomas, Arcade News, Ammanford, Carmarthenshire

“Because we’re near a local comprehensive, we have a very good relationship with the school itself. It’s mostly the school kids that try their hand at shoplifting. I phone the school if it happens, and one of the deputies will come in and look at the CCTV. They will work out within a day who it is, and that person is then brought in to apologise to us and pay for what they’ve stolen. We usually do that instead of going to the police. The police are good, but we mainly deal with the school and have a strong relationship with it.

“We’ve got cameras in the store and if we notice anything, we get in touch. We’ve got two screens, so people can see they’re being watched. During the pandemic, we only allowed one person in the store at a time, so that knocked shoplifting on the head. It’s relaxed now, but we’re watching them and we’ve still got the Covid-19 screens, which remain a deterrent to theft.”

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