When Your Store Gets Ripped Off

My last post on 5 Steps to Prevent Shoplifting generated a few more comments and ideas.  Here then are some additional pointers about what to do when you think you are losing products through theft.

The first step is to rule out internal theft by your employees.

Remember you cannot see what you cannot measure.  Put processes in place and regularly review reports to identify all “shorts” in comparing packing slips to receipts coming into the store. Make sure all receiving processes include identifying who is receiving the goods.  Look for patterns.  The same is true with markdowns at the register and returns.  With cashiers conducting the transaction identified, look for patterns in higher than normal percentages.  Then sit down with the individuals and reinforce your policies.  Vigilantly watch for incidents and take immediate action.  Once employees know that you have a zero tolerance policy for internal theft, you can expect reductions.

If your store is a victim of thieves, keep a sharp eye.  External theft occurs in multiple ways from all manner of people who will come through your door.  You cannot recognize shoplifters by how they look.  There are amateur and professional shoplifters.  Both sets typically work in pairs or groups and will attempt to distract your employees while helping themselves to products on the shelf.

Train your staff about what to do should they encounter a theft as it is taking place. Institute a code name for suspected shoplifters in the store as well as an actual stealing incident.  When an incident occurs, have plans in place and continually reinforce training to your team.  If some is seen taking something, address the person and ask “May I ring that up for you?” When approaching a suspicious person, remain calm and professional. Assume that a misunderstanding has taken place. Treat the suspect in a polite, yet firm and professional manner to avoid a slander, false arrest, or discrimination lawsuit. Have plans in place to determine when and who calls the police, if necessary. Clearly have a uniform plan in place that is applied fairly for determining when to persecute versus simply getting the goods back.

Vigilance, a clear plan and consistent communication with staff and customers will make your store less attractive to thieves and keep your merchandise out of the wrong hands.

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