How to Prevent and Handle Shoplifting in Your Retail Store

Why Do People Steal?

The reason it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly why people steal is because shoplifters act for a variety of reasons. According to New Health Advisor, about one in every 10 Americans shoplift every year.

And what’s interesting is that a whopping 75% of shoplifters say they had no intention of committing a crime before entering the store. That shoplifting is unintentional, or at least, could be deterred. Only 3% of shoplifters fit the stereotypical criminal profile — those who steal so they can resell the item for cash or drugs. So what are other reasons why people shoplift? Some of the top reasons include:.

  • Financial difficulty (because they can’t afford the item)
  • Low risk (because it’s a crime that rarely gets caught)
  • Peer pressure (because they want to prove loyalty or bravery to their peers)
  • Emotional problems (because they are seeking a temporary thrill)
  • Kleptomania (because of a psychological disorder)


Recognize the signs of a shoplifter

Educate your staff on how to spot potential shoplifters. Signs of suspicious behavior include:

  • Avoids eye contact
  • Looks at the staff instead of the products
  • Goes in and out of the store repeatedly without completing a sale
  • Wears bulky clothing (i.e. jackets or coats) when unnecessary
  • Enters with a large group

9. Use retail inventory management tools

Good retail inventory management practices will also help minimize shoplifting. Inventory management features found in retail POS systems help retailers track inventory and spot shrinkage patterns.

For example, a retail software system might show that a large number of a certain item has gone missing in the last month, and this item might be both easily swiped, and currently placed in a low visibility area. This kind of information gives retailers insights into how to beef up their retail theft prevention techniques.

Does LP Ever Break the Rules?

Q: How does LP ever catch anyone? With all of these rules it looks like the LP officer has no way of catching a shoplifter who knows what they are doing. Seems like they have no choice but to lie.

A: Unfortunately that’s pretty much the way it is. The job is 50% lies on the part of the store detective. There are so many gray areas that you pretty much have to. There is an official report of what gets filed and the story of what actually occurred. At my last job, we had to call our boss every time we had a shoplifting arrest in excess of $100. After reading him the report, he would always ask, "Ok, now what really happened?"


Main article: Shopkeeper’s privilege

Shoplifting is considered a form of theft and is subject to prosecution. Retailers may also ban from their premises individuals who have shoplifted from stores.

England and Wales

In England and Wales, an offence involving shoplifting may be charged under Section 1 of the Theft Act 1986; alternatively, if the goods stolen are worth less than £200, a person may be charged under Section 176 of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act. Upon conviction, the maximum penalty is a fine or up to six months in prison if the goods stolen are worth less than £200; if they are worth more than £200, the maximum penalty is seven years in prison.[45]

Civil Demand Laws

In order to help retailers recover money lost to shoplifting, including the cost of their loss prevention programs, states have passed laws permitting retailers to issue a demand for compensation, or civil demand, to suspected shoplifters. These demands usually allow the merchant to recover the value of merchandise that was not recovered or could not be resold, an additional charge that is often based upon a multiple of the value of the merchandise stolen, as well as certain collection costs or attorney fees. A civil demand is independent of any criminal prosecution, and payment of the money will not result in the dismissal of a pending criminal charge.

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On Stealing Expensive Things as a Teenager

Q: I’m a teenager and I lift a lot from Nordstroms. I did something stupid recently, I left Ugg tags in an empty box right in front of a camera. I really like the store and I want to go back, but I’m nervous about getting caught. What should I do?

A: If I worked LP at Nordstrom and I found an empty Uggs box and tags, you'd better believe I would be reviewing any video I had to see who took them. Lots of teens have expensive tastes these days, but shoplifting high dollar items is a guarantee that you will eventually get caught.

Nordstrom is very conscious of its highly priced items and watches them closely. You may have gotten lucky that day, but that doesn't mean they don't know who you are.

Personally, I wouldn't go back. I wouldn't be worried about getting arrested for a previous theft, (which LP cannot do), but I wouldn't be comfortable with a small roomful of coffee-breathed LP checking out my every move. I can virtually guarantee you won't be that lucky with such an expensive item again. Nordstrom will prosecute and the police will cuff you and put you in a cell. Don't screw up your life. You're too young for this crap.

When Might a Store Be Sued

A retailer should consider that it could be sued as the result of any detention for shoplifting. People accused of shoplifting may accuse a store of defaming them, publicly embarrassing them, injuring them during apprehension and detention, false arrest, sexual impropriety, unlawful detention (false imprisonment), extortion, negligent hiring and retention of underqualified or potentially dangerous staff….

A store can to a lot to minimize the risk of a lawsuit by:

  • properly screening, training and supervising its staff,
  • implementing and enforcing best practice guidelines,
  • using surveillance video to document the proper treatment of a suspect during apprehension and detention, and
  • minimizing any period of detention by promptly involving the police or releasing suspects against whom no criminal charges will be pursued.

A store should never imply that a suspect can avoid a criminal charge by paying a fine.

Once the police are summoned, and conduct an independent review of the evidence, a decision by the police to press charges or by a prosecutor to authorize charges will make it difficult to impossible for a suspected shoplifter to sue a retailer based on a claim that the retailer lacked probable cause for the stop and detention. An exception might arise when the detention is unreasonably long, perhaps due to the failure of loss prevention staff to contact the police within a reasonable time after detaining the suspect.

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How to Stop Shoplifting Habit

Your kids, friends or yourself have a shoplifting habit and don’t know how to stop it?

Actually, theft isn’t always about the lack of money. For some people, they simply want to act out, try to look cool, rebel, look for attention, or because they see friends doing it. Such behavior may reflect stress at home, in school or with friends.

If you, your family members or friends are having such problems, you can try the top 4 ways to stop your child, friends and even yourself from shoplifting.

Top 1. Find the Route of Shoplifting Deeds

To stop shoplifting addiction, the first thing you need to do is figuring out the reasons why you, your kids or your friends want to steal from someone.

Do you/your kids/your friends steal to look for excitement, earn attention or simply because of a tight budget? Do you feel guilty or shameful after the theft?

Top 2. Recognize the Error

You, your kids or friends might steal some petty items of little value from the supermarket and think it is no big deal.

Truth is that, theft is theft, no matter how much the stolen items worth. And you should tell your kids and friends that stealing is both unethical and illegal. They may also face legal charges if they are caught in the act.

Top 3. Seek Professional Help from a Doctor or Therapist

One of the best ways to stop shoplifting addiction, is to seek professional help from a doctor or a therapist. One third of juvenile shoplifters say it’s difficult for them to quit.

Those mental health professionals can provide valuable information and help stop you, your kids and friends from shoplifting.

Top 4. Distract Attention & Seek for Emotional Support

Another good way to help stop shoplifting habit is to distract yourself and find a job to increase your incomes. When you are feeling down, don’t stay alone and immerse in your own world. Instead, be active and talk with your friends for emotional support.

Keep shoplifters at bay with these 10 tips

Shoplifting is an industry-wide problem, and no store earns a 100% no-theft rate. While you can’t prevent 100% of shoplifting incidents, use these tips to make it more difficult for would-be thieves to successfully steal from your store.

As technology advances, you can leverage software to help prevent shoplifters. Given the cost of inventory, it’s worth investing in systems that can help combat shrinkage and loss due to theft.


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