Preventing Retail Theft During the Holiday Shopping Season

Dec 01, 2017

Retail Shopping Theft

With an influx of shoppers out and about during the holiday season comes an influx of retail theft. This theft can happen at small mom-and-pops, the large box retails and everywhere in between. Don’t let losses trump your record-breaking sales; follow these tips for a theft-free holiday shopping season at your store.

Be Proactive About Employee Theft

Preventing and handling employee theft is tricky, but the odds are that if theft is happening in your store, an employee is involved. According to the latest retail theft survey by Hayes International, employee theft rivals theft by shoplifting. Keeping a close eye on all transactions is as imperative as meticulous bookkeeping. Other things to look out for in a retail setting include:

  • Coupon fraud - using counterfeit coupons
  • Sweethearting - when the cashier and the shopper are working together and the bill is suspiciously lower than what it should be (either because some items weren’t scanned or less expensive items were scanned instead)
  • Building a bank - if an item costs $9.99 and the customer doesn’t wait around for their change, the cashier might void the transaction and pocket the $10
  • Refund fraud - this occurs when a sales associate refunds an item without first purchasing it, and puts the refund on a gift card

Train Employees on How to Spot Shoplifters

The good news is that the majority of employees can be viewed as allies and you want them to be properly trained on how to spot theft. First, watch your self checkout registers closely, don’t assume alarms are false and educate yourself and staff on crime rings - rarely do thieves work alone. Then, be on the lookout for the following behaviors:

  • A shopper coming in and out of your store frequently within the same day (usually without having made any purchases)
  • Groups entering your dressing room together
  • Shoppers who avoid eye contact and/or appear to be the watchdog (e.g. they aren’t really there to shop)
  • Shoppers wearing bulky clothing, carrying large handbags or strollers
  • Nervous behavior
  • Distracting your sales staff

Use Preventative Measures

In addition to training your employees, below are a few strategies that can be implemented to thwart theft in your retail location:

  • Greet every customer as they enter your shop
  • Beef up your staff to increase levels of personal attention and cover more real estate in your store
  • Keep your store well lit and well organized
  • Keep high value or high in demand items in plain view
  • Create a shoplifting policy and post it visibly, especially in dressing rooms
  • Lock dressing rooms so that your shoppers are forced to interact with your staff
  • Install security cameras
  • Use security guards
  • Use national information sharing efforts like LERPnet and subscribe to RILA
  • Form alliances with your local law enforcement
  • Talk to your neighbors - implement a retail version of a “neighborhood watch” program


While retail theft may seem inevitable, there are countless things you can do to prevent it from happening in the first place. Partnering with a trusted security company is one of them! Don’t hesitate to contact us when the time is right.





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