The Red Flags of Retail Theft


Theft is a serious problem throughout the retail industry. Each year, store owners and operators across the U.S. lose billions of dollars to shoplifting, as well as internal theft perpetrated by employees and vendors. If you’re a retailer, you need to be vigilant for the “red flags” that indicate a strong risk of theft — or that one has already occurred.

How to Spot Theft by Customers

Too often, store operators are not aware of an act of shoplifting until after the fact — when they notice a broken package with the merchandise missing or that the stock is depleted in specific areas of the store. It requires a watchful eye from managers, employees and security personnel to detect shoplifters before they have the opportunity to steal.

Fortunately, many potential shoplifters are easy to spot. There are certain types of individuals who commit most of the retail thefts in the U.S.:

  • Teenagers/juveniles: Young people shoplift for numerous reasons — a response to peer pressure, the desire to have an expensive gadget they can’t afford or just for the thrill of it.
  • Impulse thieves: This type of shoplifter can be more difficult to detect. They usually do not go into a store with the intent to steal. Instead, they take advantage of an unexpected opportunity such as a blind spot in the store layout or an unmonitored dressing room.
  • Homeless individuals/drug addicts: Some individuals must resort to stealing just to survive or to support a habit. Homeless people or drug addicts may enter your store looking disheveled or disoriented and should be monitored closely as they move about.
  • Nervous/shifty people: Most shoplifters are amateurs. They will enter a store alone and exhibit nervous behavior, such as constantly looking around to see if anyone is watching them.

Signs of Internal Theft

When you consider that a business can lose up to five percent of its revenues to employee stealing and fraud, internal retail theft prevention is essential to the survival of the business. Signs to watch for include:

  • Missing inventory in stockrooms – Employees who work in stockrooms or warehousing areas have easy access to the store’s merchandise and can take it out through an unsupervised back entrance or loading dock door.
  • Lack of documentation for write-offs – Store employees who work in receiving may claim to have disposed of damaged merchandise or returned outdated goods to the manufacturer, although there may be no paper trail to account for it.
  • Drawers coming up short – Cashiers who constantly have an issue with their drawers not balancing out at the end of the shift may be inept — or they could be helping themselves to the cash receipts.

Ramp up Your Theft Prevention Efforts by Installing an Advanced Security System

Knowing how to prevent retail theft will have a positive impact on your store’s bottom line. Your theft prevention program should include the installation of a state-of-the-art security system with features such as video surveillance and access control. Contact Titan Alarm, Inc. for all you store security needs in the Phoenix, AZ area.

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Updated by Titan Alarm on November 2, 2018.