Prevention and Detection Techniques for Shoplifting

Shoplifting is one of the burning issues of the modern world. It is believed to be also the understudied type of crime. The term “shoplifting” means stealing from stores, and it usually has different purposes and motives. Annually, this particular type of crime costs a tremendous amount of money regarding the lost inventories. Therefore, prices for goods are sometimes overcharged because of the need to recover the lost money. To prevent theft, six different techniques have been invented, which help retailers to stay in business. This paper describes the basic types of shoplifting prevention.

To detect a shoplifter, a two-way mirrors technique has been created. The principle of this type of crime prevention lies beneath installing a mirror, which appears to be glass. The security officer sees a potential shoplifter through the glass as if it were a window. This technique is possible due the amount of light, which comes from the shoplifter’s side. The biggest disadvantage of this type of crime prevention is light. In case it is dimmed from the criminal’s side, it is possible to be noticed behind the “mirror”. Additionally, the same effect can be reached if there is too much light from the security officer’s side. Judging from the information above, it is clear that this technique is not one of the most reliable. The reason for this kind of statement is uncontrolled light conditions.


The second way of preventing theft at a store is video monitoring. The technology has faced so much progress that it makes video surveillance easier and more flexible. Many security systems, which have Internet protocol cameras, are not hard in maintenance based on their needs. Such devices are small in size, easy to install and hardly noticeable. Using this particular technique, monitors are installed in a location where an officer can track every activity of potential shoplifters. Cameras provide a security guard with visual information about a shop and people who are present in it. It seems to be a reliable technique to implement, but security officers should not forget about the installment of cameras in proper areas and should not overestimate the technology. The camera may stop working, and it can result in the lost control over the area. In addition, the security officer has to be very attentive because he is obliged to monitor several screens at a time, and there is no room for a mistake or a break. The technology is a good thing, but it has to be under constant control for actions to be taken on time. 

Thirdly, shops are offered to hire a security officer for one to be present at the store and make proper actions in different situations. The person hired for such position is usually specially trained being an essential element of the staff. Any business or store decides upon the uniform of an officer, but sometimes he may be casually dressed in order to keep a low profile and remain unsuspicious. It is of great importance for all security officers to have needed training in shoplifting types, as well as to know how to restrain potential thieves and to use physical force in different life situations. Uniformed security staff members mainly walk around the store and make themselves noticed to raise the awareness level of being under monitoring among buyers. It is an essential part of being a security officer. However, the latter has to change patterns of “walking” since potential shoplifters may remember the scheme and commit a crime, while the officer is actually on duty. Casually dressed trained employees have to be as inconspicuous as they can. They have to patrol just as much as uniformed ones. The disadvantage of such kind of shoplifting prevention is the human factor of a patrolling agent.

The fourth technique of shoplifting prevention is to train store employees. The most important thing for a shoplifter is not to be seen. Thus, it is necessary to have a shop assistant that does not only deal with sales, but also the one occasionally coming to customers, offering assistance and at the same time looking for indicators of a potential theft. The staff should be aware of different techniques that a shoplifter uses. For example, if someone is walking unnaturally taking short steps, there is a high probability of something being hidden between the legs. The refusal of assistance and the presence of a person for quite a while in places far away from the cash-out zone at the store have to raise suspiciousness. Once an assistant has spotted a shoplifter, he or she should be careful enough not to scare the suspect. Otherwise, the consequence of radical methods can damage the store, employee, and of course customers. The best option is to make a security officer aware of the issue or sometimes call the police. This method also has its disadvantages related to the human factor.

The next technique is monitoring fitting rooms. Such places, which are not under supervision, offer great opportunities to shoplifters. For instance, it is very easy to pile on many clothing items and return own clothes in exchange for new ones. Fitting rooms must be under control and monitored as efficiently as possible. In order to prevent theft, stores implement different rules like taking only certain number of clothing at once or prohibiting a customer to be in the fitting room with another person. It would be perfect for a store to have an opportunity to assign a special clerk, specifically at fitting rooms. It will enable to track how many clothes are in the trying-on room. The use of audio detectors installed in the room’s door can help the store employee to be aware of the presence of the customer in the fitting space. I find this option of prevention and detection of shoplifting quite effective. Special staff’s mission is quite simple and doable since the area, which has to be monitored, is smaller than the actual store.

The last but not the least technique is merchandise tracking. There are a couple of ways of detecting whether a thing has been stolen or legally purchased. One method is to have staple receipts installed on the item by employees. Electronic tags affect the alarm system at the exit and can be removed only after purchasing at the cashier. It is important to put such tags in the middle of clothing or somewhere else to prevent their removal in the fitting room without minor damage caused to the item. It is another good technique of detecting a shoplifting case only if it is used properly. Trackers have to be big and visible to scare a shoplifter.

In conclusion, it is important to highlight the effectiveness of all techniques of prevention and detection of shoplifting, but above all, I select electronics tags. Some items at the store do not have to be taken to the fitting room. For example, small jewelry or cosmetics should not be tried on. These things should be labeled accordingly. In a perfect case, I would recommend implementing all techniques mentioned above for a zero percent rate of theft. It would be a great and effective combination for a store in any country.

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