Retail theft can occur during any time of the year, but it tends to be more common and frequent during the holidays. There are multiple reasons for this. For one thing, thieves know that this is a busy time of the year when employees might be less focused on what is going on around them. Another issue: during the holidays the store set-up often changes, with products placed near the front of the store or even outside the front doors in order to entice potential buyers. There’s also simply more shopping activity during the holiday season. All of these reasons make it especially important to teach your team to investigate potential retail business theft carefully during the holidays.
Remember Thieves’ Physical Appearance
If you or any of your employees spotted the shoplifter, note the physical appearance as soon as possible. Because this can be forgotten before too long, make a note of the alleged perpetrator’s appearance while it is still fresh in the mind. Ask employees who spotted the would be thief about the person’s gender, nationality, and approximate height, weight, hair and eye color if they remember it. In addition, ask what clothing they were wearing, and any distinctions, like piercings, tattoos or scars. Even their voice and certain mannerisms make a difference when investigating a crime such as a retail theft.
Before the Theft Has Occurred
If you are concerned about someone in your store showing signs of shoplifting, don’t do anything dangerous. Be careful approaching someone unless they have proven they have stolen. Do not attempt to apprehend them without security’s help. They might be armed and dangerous, so you should put your own safety first. This is why it is important to remember their physical attributes, to help the police with their investigation.
After the Theft Has Occurred
As soon as you realize there was a theft in your store, act quickly. Call the police immediately and make notes of what you remember. Try to remember what direction they left, and if you noticed them fleeing on foot, bicycle or by car. If you can, write down anything you remember from their vehicle, like the color, make, model or any letters or numbers from their license plate. Get witnesses who were there during the theft and ask them to write down the same.
How to Prevent Holiday Retail Theft
While not all thefts can be prevented, there are certain ways you can set up your store to reduce how many, if any, thefts occur. If it is possible, alter your store’s layout so customers have to go through checkout to exit the store, otherwise they will need to pass by staff to get to the exit. Keep the store nice and clean so employees can see right away if something is missing. If there are blind spots in the store, set up mirrors so these can be accessed. If you have monitors in the store, make it clear to customers they are there, because this is a great deterrent. Of course, having surveillance cameras with signs posting their use is an excellent deterrence as are having security guards visible in the store.
It is very important that you act quickly and consult the authorities as soon as you have noticed a theft. You should also have crime insurance as it covers the loss of theft, shoplifting and other crimes.