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12 Ways to Prevent Shoplifting in Your Retail Business Without Spending a Fortune


Just how serious is the issue of shoplifting in retail businesses?

In an overview of retail crime done by the NSW Department of Justice, it was presented that shoplifting accounts for 70% of the total reported crimes in retail shops. In Queensland alone, the total cost of the shrinkage lost to shoplifting, employee theft and fraud amounted to $421.1 million in 2014-2015.

Installing video surveillance equipment or hiring your own security force significantly decreases the likelihood of retail theft from happening. While smaller shops won’t be able to afford such features, there are other inexpensive measures they can take to reduce the risk of shoplifting.


Here are some low to no-cost ways to prevent shoplifting in your retail store:


  1. Develop your own loss prevention plan

By looking at your store’s history of revenue shrink and shoplifting cases, you can identify trends and correlations that you can use to build a more effective prevention plan. Check if there’s a particular pattern in terms of the timing of the increase of revenue shrink (e.g . around a certain season) and plan around that.


  1. Avoid messy, disorganized shelves at all times

Shoplifters can easily take something out of a chaotic pile of for sale items without you noticing. Keep your display items stacked in neat rows so it will be easier to see when an item goes missing.


  1. Put extra layers of protection for high-value items

Small, expensive items are often targets of retail theft. Place these items where your staff can easily see them from their assigned posts. You can also use locked protective casings or place them on high shelves so they’ll need assistance to get them.


  1. Deliver great customer service

Make every day an opportunity to connect and build relationships with your customers. Know them by name. Ask how they are doing and how you can help them find what they need. Shoplifters will have a harder time stealing from you when they know you can easily identify them. Having good relationships with your shoppers can also encourage them to report anything suspicious to you.


  1. Learn more about the signs and suspicious behaviours you should look out for

Not all shoplifters are the same, but they tend to exhibit similar traits (e.g. wearing baggy clothes, carrying big or multiple bags) and do similar things (e.g. loitering, checking if they’re being watched). Be aware of these signs and have a concrete plan on what to do next when you observe these on a shopper.


  1. Put up theft-prevention signs

Place these signs where shoplifters can easily see them or somewhere near your high-value items. The signs can emphasize any of the following:

  • Security features in place and how shoppers are being watched
  • Punishment for shoplifting (e.g. fines, criminal charges)
  1. Track items going in and out of dressing rooms

Limit the number of items that each shopper can take inside the dressing room. You can also try to implement a number system so you can track how many items go in and out.


  1. Create your own shoplifting policy

Does everyone working in your store know what to do in case someone is caught stealing? Learn about the laws on shoplifting in your area and incorporate them into your own policy. Keep the contact details of your local police handy in case you need to report the incident.


  1. Adjust staffing rotation when shoplifting cases are expected to rise

You may be able to identify certain periods when the risk of shoplifting is higher than usual (e.g. peak hours of the store, Christmas season). Assign more employees to come in during these times so there’ll be more people keeping track of your inventory.


  1. Have a firm policy for returns and refunds

Many people who steal from stores attempt to return the items and get a refund. You can implement a policy that states that refunds will only be given once a valid receipt is presented. When shoplifters know they can’t return their stolen items for a refund at your store, it will become less of a target.


  1. Orient your employees about your security protocols

Aside from orienting your staff about your overall security protocol, you should also inform them about specific procedures they should take in response to a crime scenario and what roles they play in preventing it from happening.


  1. Decide on your store’s design and layout with security in mind

Visibility is key to crime prevention. Low shelves, good lighting, and a well-thought-out floor plan can significantly contribute to minimizing blind spots and deterring shoplifting in your store.



Shoplifting is one of the most common retail crimes which costs retail businesses millions in revenue shrink year after year. Not being able to afford the installation of video surveillance and the hiring of security officers shouldn’t leave your store susceptible to shoplifting. By implementing these simple and low-cost tips, you can significantly lower the risk of shoplifting in your store.

If you want to know more about retail crimes and the risk your establishment is currently facing, it is advisable that you consult a security professional.  We at Prosek Security will be happy to help you conduct a risk assessment so you’ll have an idea of the potential threats you need to prepare for. Contact us now to schedule your free consultation with one of our security experts.