This short animation has been developed by the Association of Convenience Stores to help retailers and their staff deal with incidents in store that could lead to violence and abuse. More detailed guidance from ACS is available at www.acs.org.uk
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’.
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.
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 even displaying the items elsewhere.
A clean and tidy retail outlet with clear visibility across the shop floor tells a thief that everything is shipshape – and that surveillance is also probably first class. Keep things security friendly, with uncluttered, wide aisles where possible, thereby making it extremely difficult for them to steal unnoticed. Ensure that the exterior, the grounds and the building itself are also well maintained and clean, to keep the space as visible as possible.
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. 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 if they require a basket or a bag. If you’re feeling uncomfortable, be polite, step away and quietly alert your manager or security team.
For as much of the day as possible, try not to be alone. Thieves target stores where there is only one member of staff. More eyes in the store, means you’re more likely to spot a thief, so have a few members of staff and make sure they’re trained in how to spot shoplifters. For more guidance, see our page on how to spot a shoplifter.