An inexperienced shoplifter will often show signs of their intent. A few examples include: hovering and loitering in and around the outside of the store, keeping an eye on a cashier or sales clerk, abnormal nervousness and baggy clothes that don’t fit the season.
What if the shoplifters are professionals? In most cases, professional thieves tend to work in groups, hence, organized retail crime. Sometimes a member of the group will display the same poor tactics mentioned above, but more members equals more customers to watch, and often one will slip through the cracks.
According to recent statistics, provided by the National Retail Federation, U.S. retailers lost $47 billion to theft in 2017. Due to this rise in theft, average lost sales revenue totaled nearly $780,000 per $1 billion.
The shoplifters usually target items they can easily store and steal without much visual evidence and quickly resell. Some examples include: handbags, cellphones, expensive liquor and designer clothing. The most afflicted cities of organized retail crime are: New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago and Houston.
What’s to blame for the rise in crime?
One key point tied to the increase in organized retail crime is that several states have increased the threshold of a felony theft charge. This means that shoplifters can steal more items while only worrying about a misdemeanor charge if caught. This lenience, fewer staff members in-store, gift card fraud and the online sale of stolen goods have attributed to the rise in theft.
Combating theft is an on-going battle that poses daily risk to retailers. Attempting to slow down their losses, retailers have begun investing in and upgrading their security technology, creating beneficial relationships with local police and adopting stricter return policies.
To help curb the issue, make sure your employees are trained on what suspicious activity looks like - create a plan for employees to follow once they’ve identified a shoplifter and arrange your store to be very open and organized. This will make it harder for the shoplifter to hide and avoid eye contact when trying to steal.