Harrogate District Chamber of Commerce News

Reducing Shop Lifting and Thefts

20 Sep 2018 by

Thanks to the Police for providing this information. As always, you should get a suitably qualified expert to double check everything has been done correctly:

Six top tips for securing your shop

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1. Meet and Greet

Shoplifters can always assess how easy it is to steal from a shop by how soon after they enter they are spoken to by a member of staff. It’s known as ‘the three-to-five second rule’.

Therefore greeting customers as they enter your premises can put off shoplifters because it sends out a message that you and your staff are paying attention. If a thief thinks they've been spotted they're more likely to leave.

2. Crime-Mapping in Your Store

Work out where inside the store thefts are happening. Keep records of location, dates, times and CCTV of incidents or suspicious behaviour. This is called ‘crime mapping’.

Take a look at this area as if you are seeing it for the first time, then work out what you can do to protect it. Can you improve the surveillance? For example, can you see it from the till? Try making the area more visible by repositioning or lowering stock and shelving. Consider placing more staff here or displaying the items elsewhere.

3. Electronic Tagging

If possible, tag your items with ‘Electronic Article Surveillance’ – there are many systems available.

A correctly installed and security accredited anti-theft tagging system at a store entrance tells potential shoplifters ‘this store is protected’. Most shops see a marked drop in shoplifting once they have an anti-theft terminal on the door.

4. Keep it Tidy

A tidy store with clear visibility to all areas tells a thief everything is well managed – including surveillance. Keep things security friendly, with uncluttered, wide aisles where possible. (This makes it hard for them to steal without being noticed.) Ensure the grounds and exterior are also well maintained and clean with all spaces as visible as possible.

5. Personal Safety

You can't predict who’s coming into your shop or how they will behave. Shoplifters could respond aggressively when challenged.

Employers should conduct a risk assessment in conjunction with Health and Safety directions - http://www.hse.gov.uk/retail/ Always trust your instincts and only engage a potential shoplifter if it is safe to do so. If you feel confident with the situation, keep a safe distance and then ask them if they need any help or whether they require a basket or bag. If you’re feeling uncomfortable, be polite, step away and quietly alert your manager or the Police.

6. Safety in Numbers

For as much of the day as possible, try not to be alone. Thieves are less likely to target stores where several members of staff or shoppers obviously well known to the assistant are keeping a watch. For more guidance, see the police advice on how to spot a shoplifter - https://www.met.police.uk/cp/crime-prevention/shoplifting/spot-a-shoplifter/


Invest in a properly managed CCTV system. Make sure appropriate signage is displayed noting you have cctv coverage.

Consider placing a wall mounted CCTV monitor near the till points.

If you are designing your shop from scratch, try and use low-level aisles so customers are visible at all times. Use mirrors to reduce blind spots.

Manage the obstructions in your store and avoid shelving or displays going so high that they block surveillance.

Do not place displays of valuable or easy to steal goods close to doors.

You and your staff are amongst your most important and effective defence against shoplifters - ensure all have proper training. (See internet links above)

Empty boxes or covering of high value goods or, if this is not possible, put them behind or near checkout areas.

Consider investing with neighbouring businesses in a security guard or join the retail radio scheme - which means you can be alerted if known shoplifters are near your premises.

If your store has a fitting room, introduce restrictions on access and have an attendant monitor all stock going in and coming out. Be sure to check the fitting rooms frequently for garments left behind. Pay special attention to discarded price tags, security tags and hangers - these may be an indication that shoplifting has occurred.


Burglary - What Can You Do?

Slow them down

Time is a key factor in most burglaries: The risks are highest when they are conspicuous to passers-by or in the short time left after an alarm has gone off. To prevent burglaries effectively, you should use more than one deterrent as this will make the risk seem unacceptable. The more barriers you create, the more you will slow them down.

Train your staff

Teach them about the burglary prevention measures you have taken and the correct use of any equipment you have installed:

• report suspicious circumstances Explain to staff the importance, for example, of keeping a watchful eye for suspicious people or vehicles to prevent people ‘casing’ your premises.

• get them involved You can develop their commitment to crime prevention by asking their opinions and ideas about the measures you are taking or propose to take.

• key security Above all, you should build key security into your staff training programme. Ensure that only specially selected staff have access to certain keys or combination locks and that keys to secure areas are not left within the shop. Selected staff or managers must thoroughly understand their responsibilities for locking and securing fastenings on windows and doors, cabinets, internal offices where cash may be held, safes, rooflights and any other exits.

• help from your crime prevention officer Your local crime prevention officer will be able to develop your awareness and knowledge about suitable crime prevention measures for your shop. He or she can also advise you about vetting new staff to reduce the risk of burglaries and other retail crimes being organised or assisted from within.

• scrutinise all returns Crimes can be committed by criminals using sob stories: This can include goods for exchange being picked up from a shelf before walking up to customer services demanding a refund.

Look after stock and cash

• bank your cash If you do not leave cash in the store overnight it cannot be stolen in a burglary. Night safe facilities are available after opening hours. If you do not use a specialist cash collection agency be sure to vary your route to the bank / Post Office and the times you leave the shop.

• leave the empty till open By leaving the till open, visible and clearly empty, any burglars looking through the window seeking cash are likely to lose interest.

• remove high value goods from window displays You can protect portable high value goods such as jewellery or camcorders by removing them from display windows overnight – preferably locking them in a safe or secure room or cage. But be aware of the drawbacks – the extra workload on you and your staff and the likelihood that empty windows will attract less window shopping and therefore less ‘informal’ policing. (Having more people around increases the chance of there being witnesses who can call the police.)

• conceal stock Burglars will be less likely to break into your stock room if you hide what is in it by covering over the windows.