Top 6 Tips to Prevent Shoplifting

February 20, 2017

Preventing shoplifters can save your profits and your reputation. Follow our top six tips to keep you from having to play bad cop at your place of business!


1) Bulk Up Your Staff

Bulk up your staff to have as many employees on the sales floor as possible. Greeting every new customer sends the subconscious signal that you are paying attention and it robs suspecting thieves of their anonymity. It lets them know that you are attentive and attentive acts as an effective yet inexpensive deterrent for those trying to be undercover.

Secret shoppers are another affordable way to keep shoplifters at bay. Thieves often know how to spot secret shoppers and would rather steal from a store that isn’t always on the lookout. It’s a good way to show that you care about your retail space and earns you an anti-theft reputation!


2) Then Watch Your Staff

We want to feel good about those we hire, and we want to trust our employees. But, according to the National Retail Security Survey (NRSS), internal theft was nearly as high as shoplifting (50% vs. 44.4%, respectively). Conducting pre-employment screening and background checks can help you decrease your chances of internal theft.

We recommend having a checks and balances system (redundancies) in place for each of your processes and never let your guard down. offers tips from an accounting and bookkeeping prospective that are extremely helpful!


3) Lock Up & Brighten Up

High value items should be placed in locked cabinets when possible. Keep them in plain view, near registers or high traffic areas. The goal is to deter shoplifters, so do whatever you can to make high value items unobtainable.

For the more discrete areas or less popular items, use lighting to your advantage. Just as you would use various forms of lighting at home to deter burglars (light timers, motion lights, etc.), proper lighting in your store can help deter theft. Keep all areas well-lit and use mirrors in any blind spots.


4) Pay Close Attention

Start by organizing your store; a well-organized floorplan and layout makes it easier to spot missing items. If possible, consider placing the register near the door.

Next, watch for pairs or groups, where one is distracting the staff while the others grab and go. Watch for nervous nellies and odd behaviors; being fixated on the store’s employees and their whereabouts can be a dead giveaway.

Most shoplifters will at least attempt to hide stolen items, so look for bulky, baggy clothing, strollers and various bags (purses, diaper bags). A newer trend is shoppers who bring their own shopping bags, so we recommend designing a policy for reusable bags in your store if they are allowed.


5) Utilize Signage

For the same reason we recommend keeping your home security yard signs and business security signs up to date, we also recommend keeping shoplifters-will-be-prosecuted-style signs around your store to let potential shoplifters know that you mean business. Another comparison can be drawn from the electronic speed detection signs that tell drivers at what speed they are traveling; all cars have speedometers, but the psychology of knowing someone else could be watching tends to do the trick.

Place your anti-theft sigs in spots shoplifters will tend to look: the entry/exit, near surveillance cameras, and so on. Be clear in your language and feel free to add your brand’s personal style, but we recommend a set of eyes to give the illusion someone is watching!


6) Beware of Surveillance Cameras & Security Systems

If “beware of” signs just aren’t enough, the most surefire way to prevent shoplifting is to employ the use of security cameras and a business alarm system. If you are on a low budget, choose strategically placed locations to accommodate fewer cameras. The presence of even one camera and/or a security system will deter most (60%) attempted thefts, according to the UNC Charlotte study on habits and motivations of burglars. The same psychology applies to shoplifters.

And, unless your business operates 24/7 with an extremely keen and trustworthy staff, it just can’t be watched at all times without the help of technology, in this case, electronic security. We always have your commercial security at top of mind, so that you don’t have to deter your focus from your business.


Please consider employing some or all of our shoplifting prevention tips because prevention tends to cost much less than the billions of dollars stolen from retail stores each year. Contact us to learn more about what our business security systems can do for you!