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  #PreventTheft this holiday season!  

   By :  Ravinder
    Nov 18, 2014    Views: 3348
Whether it’s Black Friday or Christmas the race is on to maximize retail sales in the last few months of the year.  With the hopes of record in-store and online revenue, retailers are ramping up with extra inventory and temporary staffing.  This is the time when most retailers will make or break their annual sales targets.
 
Within all of this chaos lays the opportunity for thieves to cash in as well.  From Debit and Credit Card Fraud and theft of merchandise to fraudulent returns, it can be a fruitful season for criminals as well.  As retailers are focused on pushing through sales it can be tough to remember to do the little things that can protect the bottom line. 
 
With some help from loss prevention professionals from across Canada we have put together some words of wisdom and a few tips that will help you #preventtheft  this holiday season!
 
 #preventtheft
 
According to Sean Sportun Manager, Security & Loss Prevention at Mac's Convenience Stores, shoplifters can be separated into three categories and their methods of operation vary, but their common goal is the same – to get something for nothing. 
 
  • The first type of shoplifter is The Professional. Professionals target items of high value and most often use sophisticated methods to commit the theft. The Professional shoplifter steals for a living and does so for pure profit. They are patient in their ways and are the most difficult to identify, as they fit in very well and do not take chances.
  • The second type of shoplifter is The Amateur. The Amateur is someone who shoplifts on occasion and takes things for his/her need. This type of shoplifter may steal under peer pressure to impress others or receive a thrill from taking something that does not belong to them. The Amateur shoplifter is the easiest to identify.  
  • The third type of shoplifter is The Drug Addict. The Drug Addict shoplifts to support a drug or alcohol habit. This type of shoplifter will take a chance even if they think they were observed. This shoplifter is very dangerous and may resort to violence when approached. 
 
Within each profile Sean has highlighted we can start to see what motivates a criminal and how they may attempt a theft within your store.  Andrew Brumby, D.B.C./ E.B.C., at MEC furthers this point by saying:
  
“… consider that different demographics of thieves will be deterred by different LP methods. By this I mean that someone who steals something solely because they were presented with an opportunity to get away with it, does so for a completely different reason than someone who is a career criminal feeding an addiction. A security tag might be enough to deter someone of the "opportunistic" mindset, but someone from the "career" mindset will likely require something more creative.  Although this distinction is not always immediately apparent, if we take the time to look at the motivations for these differing groups, as retailers, we will be better able to tailor our responses for our specific loss prevention needs.”
 
Ideally we want to deter criminals or prevent theft before or shortly after they enter a place of business.  Using situational crime prevention, we affect their decisions by convincing them their contemplated crime will be:
 
* Too difficult, and / or
* Too risky, and / or
* Not worth it
 
As a retailer making things “too difficult” or “risky” for a thief is easier than you think.  “Great Customer Service is the biggest deterrent to shoplifting; honest customers love it and dishonest customers hate it!  No matter what physical security tools you have in place if you, a staff member in a retail location, prepare your store with clear sight lines and product displays that are conducive to customer service, you will increase your sales and decrease your losses“ says Brendan Alexander, Director, Corporate Loss Prevention at BC Liquor Distribution Branch.  Indeed most Loss Prevention professionals would agree that great customer service is your first defence against shoplifting.  
 
Angela Auty, Regional Manager – Asset Protection at Luxottica Retail, adds it is important to train associates on how to engage and interact with multiple customers while being aware of their surroundings.  “Associates also need to be educated on the alert signals of a potential shoplifter as well as how to react and respond to a theft/attempted theft.  A Safety Policy needs to be in place and communicated.  Associates are not to accuse/follow or chase shoplifters“ says Angela. 
 
Luxottica stores are located in shopping mall locations which can add some interesting nuances to preventing theft.  Here are her best practices to #preventtheft this holiday season:
 
  • Schedule adequate coverage for peak traffic times.
  • Associates should be positioned at the front of the store to greet customers as they enter. This is also a physical deterrent for anyone intending to steal.
  • Communication between associates working if there is a suspected shoplifter in the store.
  • Partnership with Mall Security.  Request walk-throughs if there is suspicious behavior. Also, have a code word when contacting Mall Security ie: NORA (Need officer right away) so that the suspect is not alerted.
  • Associate awareness of the product.  Holes (in a display or plan-o-gram) should be filled immediately.
  • Re-merchandising if possible so that high end product is not near the front door and exposed to a grab and run.
  • The Shopkeepers Right to Refuse Act.  Known shoplifters should be asked to leave the premises. 
  • ORC (Organized Retail Crime) activity needs to be communicated with other locations in the organization in the geographical area as well as law enforcement. 
  • Limiting the number of teenagers to enter the store if in a large group.
  • Asking customers to leave their backpacks/shopping bags etc behind the sales counter is not advised.  This exposes you to liability should their belongings go missing.
Finally help criminals believe it is “not worth it” by making products difficult to steal for them but not difficult to shop for honest consumers.   There is a difference.  Try to utilize security solutions that may alarm or damage the product if removed improperly and at the same time allow the merchandise to be openly displayed.  Do not lock up your merchandise in cage or behind glass unless it is absolutely necessary because you will lose sales.  We understand that 99% of the shoppers in your store are honest and would like to make a purchase.  So let’s not get in the way of that!
 
Hopefully these words of advice will help you #preventtheft this holiday season!  
 
Follow @halometrics on twitter for more helpful tips and information on protecting the shopping experience.

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#PreventTheft this holiday season!
Nov 18, 2014 09:00 AM


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