Raleigh, NC (PressExposure) December 17, 2008 -- Law enforcement agencies and retailers across the country are reporting an increase in shoplifting and expect the amount of theft to continue to rise during the holiday season. For retailers looking to stop shoplifters, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) of Eastern North Carolina (www.bbb.org) is offering guidance to help prevent theft.
The National Retail Federation (NRF) estimates that retail theft now accounts for more than $40 billion per year in losses. In the past, shoplifting reports were primarily focused on stealing pricey items. Some law enforcement agencies are now reporting spikes in losses when it comes to the everyday basics, such as groceries.
âItâs imperative that businesses take a serous approach to discouraging and stopping thieves from the moment an individual walks into their store,â says Beverly Baskin, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Eastern North Carolina. âIf they donât, shoplifters will come back again and again because they know the risk of getting caught is low.â
BBB offers a few simple tips to retailers on identifying shoplifting tactics and steps they can take to prevent theft:
Signs of a Shoplifter
â¢ While shoplifters come in all shapes and sizes, there are a few common traits to look out for including baggy clothes, loitering, an awkward walk, nervousness and lack of eye contact.
â¢ Common techniques include swapping price tags, layering stolen clothes in dressing rooms, creating a diversion during which they will pocket items and the âgrab and dashâ technique with items close to the doors.
â¢ A well-trained staff is the business ownerâs best defense against shoplifters. Staff should be educated on how to identify shoplifters and their techniques, as well as empowered to take action.
â¢ Good customer service is a great way to thwart shoplifters. Staff should be encouraged to greet customers when they enter the store. Itâs a friendly gesture, but it also tells potential shoplifters that the staff is vigilant and paying attention.
Store Layout and Policies
â¢ Ideally, businesses should be free from blind spots where shoplifters can take cover. Remedies are as simple as installing mirrors or rearranging displays.
â¢ In order to limit theft of expensive items, such goods can be displayed behind locked glass and kept a safe distance from the entrance.
â¢ Shoplifters will often steal items in order to return them for a refund. To minimize this, retailers should have a strict policy requiring a receipt for returns.
â¢ BBB also recommends business owners create a detailed policy for steps employees should take when confronting a shoplifter. While some businesses are wary of contacting the police to report shoplifters due to the threat of lawsuit, many experts advocate that businesses should report all shoplifters to the police.
Get Outside Help
â¢ There are many businesses that provide various services to prevent shoplifting. This includes electronic surveillance tag systems, closed circuit cameras and undercover shoppers. Retailers can also retain the services of security consultants who can train employees and recommend specific steps the business can take to reduce theft.
â¢ Local law enforcement is also a superb resource and can offer advice on preventing shoplifting, as well as updates on current trends in the area.
For more advice on protecting small businesses this holiday season, visit BBB online at http://www.bbb.org