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How to Stop Shoplifting: Top 12 Effective & Low-Cost Theft Prevention Tips for Your Retail Store

How to Stop Shoplifting: Top 12 Effective & Low-Cost Theft Prevention Tips for Your Retail Store

Learning how to stop shoplifting should be a compulsory course for every retailer.


According to the statistics, shoplifting accounts for 38% of retail inventory loss, about $32 billion a year – that would be a huge figure if you are running a small business.

If shoplift prevention tips are not well taken, your small business will suffer big loss every day by shoplifters, who could be an amateur acting on impulse or a career criminal who habitually engages in shoplifting.

In this post, we will share you with the most effective and low-cost tips on how to stop shoplifting.

How to Prevent Shoplifting in Your Retail Store – Top 10 Methods for Retailers

There are many ways to reduce shoplifting, but if you don’t take the appropriate ones, you may get into troubles, such as dislikes and discomfort from regular customers and even the involvement in shoplifting laws.

If you are a retailer, you can try the top 10 ways to prevent and stop shoplifting (or shrinkage or straight-up stealing) in your retail stores.

Top 1. Use Security & Surveillance Camera Systems

What is the NO.1 shoplifting deterrent?

The winner definitely goes to the security camera systems.

They can monitor what is happening in your retail store 24/7 nonstop, and enable you to see clearly if there is someone trying to steal your products.

Many retail thieves would stop shoplifting if they know they are under video surveillance throughout the store, so the security cameras can go a long way towards preventing shoplifting in your store.

Even in the worst case that shoplifting does occur, the video camera footage will help to spot and identify the shoplifters. (Never use fake security cameras in your retail store as you will get no evidence.)

Also, you can put striking signs telling all people that your retail store is well protected and under surveillance to stop retail shoplifting.

Here is a video sample captured by a Reolink security camera in a café.

Top 2. Install Anti-Theft Devices in Your Retail Store

Besides security camera systems, you can also install other shoplifting prevention devices including security towers or doorbells at entrances, convex mirrors in corners and anti-theft tags on merchandise.

Those anti-shoplifting devices are very helpful in the first place to prevent and stop shoplifting in your small businesses.

Top 3: Keep Good Relationships with Your Employees

It is reported that employee theft is the number one cause of retail shrink. To prevent shoplifting from your internal staff, you can install security cameras in the warehouse and the retail space.

Forge a good relationship with your employees and let them know you appreciate their hard work. State it clear to them what the severe consequences will be if you find any acts of internal theft.

Top 4. Post an Anti-Shoplifting Policy

Another good way to stop shoplifting in your store is to draft a shoplifting policy and enforce it. Post the policy in the visible places so that all the employees and customers know it.

State clearly the shoplifting dos and don’ts, especially that you require large bags to be checked by your employees, bags must be stored in a locker, or a strict return and refund policy.

A study shows that 29% of shoplifters used a bag to hide the stolen merchandise. Having such a kind of policy helps to burglar proof shoplifting in your store.

Top 5. Secure Easy-Target Items to Prevent Shoplifting

There are several other useful methods to stop shoplifting in your store, so that you can prevent shoplifting loss.

Store small and expensive items in locked glass cases, attach sensors or dye pack to items, chain or attach items to shelves or clothes racks, or keep commonly stolen items in plain view, such as placing items that are often targeted in an area in the front of the store, near the cash register or another highly visible area.

The commonly shoplifted items are those with a high price in proportion to their size, like clothes, disposable razor blades, vitamins, alcoholic beverages, and cigarettes.

Top 6. Have Security Guards at the Exit

One of the most useful ways to reduce shoplifting is to have security guards at the exit. Shoplifters would be discouraged since the guards would search backpacks and bags and check receipts.

You can also hire plainclothes “store detectives” to help prevent shoplifting in your retail stores.

Top 7. Train Your Employees How to Detect Potential Shoplifters

Your employees are part of your team to prevent shoplifting. Train them about the shoplifting prevention techniques, such as the signs of a shoplifter, how to detect and spot a shoplifter, and how to confront a shoplifter if a theft does occur.

Encourage your employees to walk around the store, down various aisles, and corners. And keep it in mind that you should always have more than one employee working in your store.

Top 8. Keep the Shoplifter in Your Sight

If you or your employees suspect someone may be shoplifting, never accuse him or her. Instead, ask if you can help him or her, or rung him or her up. Keep the person in your sight. Never try to stop the shoplifter if he or she is not caught “in the act”.

To prevent retail shoplifting, watch for your customers who avoid eye contact, seem nervous, wander around the store, constantly look at store employees or have other suspicious and shifty behaviors.

Top 9. Keep Your Store Tidy and Well-organized

A disorganized and dirty store is an easy-target for shoplifters. To prevent shoplifting in your store, you should keep shelves and displays low, and install adequate lighting to maintain visibility throughout the store.

Also, keep your inventory organized, which helps you to notice any anomalies or missing merchandise.

Top 10. Restrict the Use of the Fitting Room

If you are in the clothing business and have fitting rooms in your store, pay attention to the fitting rooms, which are nice places for shoplifters to steal your products.

An effective way to stop shoplifting is to lock the rooms and require customers to see a salesperson before using the room. Do put signs in your fitting rooms warning against shoplifting.

Top 11. Improve Your Customer Service

Experts say that good customer service can stop compulsive shoplifting and “scare off” the would-be shoplifters.

Greet customers and ask if they need assistance, or help customers carry their taken products along with them. Many shoplifters balk when they are forced to interact with store personnel, and they notice they would get little chance to “take actions”.

Top 12. Check Receipts at the Exit to Stop Shoplifting

Another practical way to prevent shoplifting in supermarkets and retail stores is to get strict with the receipts.

You may appoint someone to check the receipts by the exit before the consumers leave. Though it might be hasty and quick, such deeds will do the trick of stopping shoplifting.

How to Stop Shoplifting Habit

Your kids, friends or yourself have a shoplifting habit and don’t know how to stop it?

Actually, theft isn't always about the lack of money. For some people, they simply want to act out, try to look cool, rebel, look for attention, or because they see friends doing it. Such behavior may reflect stress at home, in school or with friends.

If you, your family members or friends are having such problems, you can try the top 4 ways to stop your child, friends and even yourself from shoplifting.

Top 1. Find the Route of Shoplifting Deeds

To stop shoplifting addiction, the first thing you need to do is figuring out the reasons why you, your kids or your friends want to steal from someone.

Do you/your kids/your friends steal to look for excitement, earn attention or simply because of a tight budget? Do you feel guilty or shameful after the theft?

Top 2. Recognize the Error

You, your kids or friends might steal some petty items of little value from the supermarket and think it is no big deal.

Truth is that, theft is theft, no matter how much the stolen items worth. And you should tell your kids and friends that stealing is both unethical and illegal. They may also face legal charges if they are caught in the act.

Top 3. Seek Professional Help from a Doctor or Therapist

One of the best ways to stop shoplifting addiction, is to seek professional help from a doctor or a therapist. One third of juvenile shoplifters say it’s difficult for them to quit.

Those mental health professionals can provide valuable information and help stop you, your kids and friends from shoplifting.

Top 4. Distract Attention & Seek for Emotional Support

Another good way to help stop shoplifting habit is to distract yourself and find a job to increase your incomes. When you are feeling down, don’t stay alone and immerse in your own world. Instead, be active and talk with your friends for emotional support.

What Is the Law for Shoplifting

Shoplifting is considered a form of theft and is subject to prosecution. The shoplifting laws vary a lot in different states in US. In most cases in the US, store employees and managers are given certain power of arrest. For more information, refer to the shoplifting laws descriptions.

If you want to avoid shoplifting charges or conviction for shoplifting, the first thing you can do is to talk to the retailers and see if he/she is willing to accept any payment in return for dropping the charges.

If the State won’t drop your case, find yourself a good attorney and seek professional advice about how to avoid a shoplifting conviction. (See the post about what to do if you are charged with a retail theft.)


All Comments Are Welcome

Yolanda is an editor of Reolink, and also an independent writer showing great interest in technology and art. She has studied home and business security issues for years, and always shares useful tips and tricks with her fans.