USI Security Tips

5 Warning Signs of Shoplifters

February 25, 2019

shoplifterIf you own or manage a retail store, one of the biggest problems you probably face on a daily basis is shoplifting. Theft is extremely common in retail stores and results in huge losses in inventory and revenue for businesses. To prevent shoplifting, it’s important to know the warning signs to look for as well as the proper security measures to take to ward against shoplifters. We’ve compiled the most important information you need to know to minimize shoplifting in your retail store.


Warning Signs

1. Large Groups

When people shoplift, they often work in pairs or groups. If you notice a large group of people walking in at once, it’s often a warning sign. If someone or multiple people from the group cause a disturbance, it can be an attempt to distract employees while other members of the group stow away items from your store in their clothing or bags. Although large groups of people shopping are not always shoplifters, it’s important to keep an extra eye on large groups to prevent any issues.

2. Hovering

If you notice an individual hovering or loitering in your store for a long period of time, it’s often a warning sign. If your employees offer this individual help and they refuse, they might be trying to shoplift. Notice this person’s body language and what they’re looking at. Do their eyes keep drifting to security cameras or your employees? Although someone hovering in your store might be simply shopping at a leisurely pace or looking to kill time, these signs can often indicate someone planning to shoplift.

3. Nervousness

If you notice an individual looking particularly nervous, they might be attempting to shoplift. Any suspicious behavior such as shifty eyes or frequent pacing can indicate a person contemplating shoplifting. If they’re avoiding eye contact with you or your employees, it’s another sign. If you notice a nervous person in your store, it’s important to engage them to properly understand whether they have shoplifting on their mind. If they feel very uncomfortable talking to your employees and try to avoid them, there is a good chance they are looking to shoplift.

4. Loose Clothing

If you notice that an individual has many different places to conceal potentially shoplifted items, you should pay extra attention to them. Shoplifters often wear loose clothing, carry large bags, or carry multiple bags to provide many different potential storage places for their shoplifted items. It’s important to be aware of these factors to pay extra attention to these individuals. Although many people entering your store with a baggy coat will not be shoplifters, it doesn’t hurt to pay these people extra attention.

5. Leaving Fitting Rooms With Fewer Items

Fitting rooms are a very common place where shoplifting takes place. Shoplifters will take items into a fitting room then stow some of the items away to take out of the store. For this reason, it’s important to count the number of items your patrons are taking into the fitting room. Make sure people always leave with the same number of items they came in with to prevent shoplifting. Although some individuals might simply leave unwanted items in the fitting room, requiring patrons to leave with the same number of items they entered with will help you prevent shoplifters.

Prevention Techniques

1. Hire Security Officers

Security officers can patrol and monitor your store to prevent theft. You can post them at the entrances to your store as well as any hidden areas. Security officers are trained to look for suspicious activity and will keep an eye on shoppers without detracting from their experience. Additionally, the presence of security officers will deter potential shoplifters out of fear that they will get caught.

2. Upgrade Your Security System

Your retail store probably already has security cameras, but most stores can benefit from a security system upgrade. Surveillance cameras should be placed around the store and all entrances and exits to properly monitor activity. You should also have a trained security officer monitoring the footage, watching for suspicious activity and reacting if a theft takes place. To provide the best and most reliable footage, your store should be equipped with the latest technology.

3. Get a Security Risk Assessment

If you’re looking to make improvements to your security, one of the best things you can do is have a security risk assessment. During this process, a representative from a professional security company will come to your store and assess your current security system and protocol. They will then make appropriate suggestions, identifying areas that are particularly vulnerable to theft and other issues. They will identify the best areas to place your surveillance cameras for maximum coverage and tell you which pieces of your system should be updated.

4. Retrain Employees

It’s never a bad idea to hold a refresher course in security protocol for your employees. Remind them how to handle shoplifters if they are caught. You should also teach them the warning signs to look out for to help prevent shoplifting. When your employees are alert and take an active role in preventing theft, shoplifting rates will go down.

5. Rearrange Your Store

If you’re concerned about shoplifting and security breaches, you should consider rearranging your store. You can change the arrangement so that there are no blind spots in which customers can hide and steal from the store. You should also carefully consider the placement of employees, ensuring that employees are posted around the store so that every spot in the store can be seen. Rearranging your store can give it a fresh look for the summer while improving its overall security.

6. Install Mirrors

One of the best ways to prevent blind spots in your store is to install mirrors. Mirrors can make the store more visible for employees, making hard-to-see areas easier to monitor. When employees can easily see the entire store, they will be able to watch for shoplifters and prevent theft more easily. When potential shoplifters see the mirrors, they will be less likely to try to steal because there will be nowhere to hide.

7. Keep High-Risk Items Visible

Another way to prevent theft in your store is to organize your items well. Place small items and frequently stolen items away from exits or blind spots. Instead, keep these items near your registers where employees can see them. If your store has items that are at particularly high risk of being stolen, it’s a good idea to keep them visible to prevent theft.

8. Leverage Your Customer Service

A great way to prevent theft while improving the experience of your customers is to leverage your customer service. Make sure your employees greet each customer when they walk through the door. Have enough employees walking around to make sure the area is properly monitored. Make sure your employees are frequently acknowledging customers, offering help when needed. When your customers know that your employees are attentive, they are less likely to steal because they will fear getting caught.

USI Security | Security For Retail Businesses

At USI Integrated Solutions, we bring together a highly experienced team, keen strategic planning and in-depth understanding of the leading technologies and security services in the field. For 27 years we have brought peace of mind to our clients through the careful application of investigative talent, technology implementation as well as providing trained and licensed security officers. Learn more about our products and services to improve the safety of your property at or give us a call at 1-800-874-6434.

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