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Jeremy Davies Preventing Customer Theft

2. Customers with very large

shoulder bags or backpacks. If a customer is seen with an unzipped or open bag, this could be used to conceal items. Bring the open bag to their attention.

"good customer service can be

very effective in preventing theft "

The issue of customer theft is one that is reported to be constantly growing for retailers of all sizes. According to the British Retail Consortium Crime Survey, customer theft accounted for 82 per cent of all retail crime by volume in 2012-13. This was the highest level for nine years, but just one in ten offences were reported to the police. The average value of customer theft increased by 62 per cent, to £177 per incident.

Top Five Product Groups at Risk Thieves target a common range of products in most businesses with signifi cant losses noted on the following categories.

1. Seeds 2. Gifts (cards and candles) 3. Secateurs and hand tools 4. Watering (pond pumps and watering products)

5. Clothing (wax jackets and leather gloves)

Annual Business Turnover £1,000,000 £3,000,000 £5,000,000 £8,000,000

Annual Estimated Shrinkage 3% £30,000 £90,000 £150,000 £240,000

Tell-tale signs of a shoplifter If your business is operating an EPoS system you may already have a good indication as to the level of theft and risk areas of the business. Seeing empty packets or gaps on the shelf for items you are sure haven’t been sold is simply a pointer to the problem. These signs can unfortunately be the tip of the iceberg.

SIX ways to spot a shoplifter Thieves like to be hidden and remain unnoticed. They often work as a team and can come to your centre at any time in order to shoplift. A busy shop, especially at times when staffi ng levels are at their lowest, is an ideal environment for thieves to operate. A high level of good customer

service can be very effective in preventing theft and making your business a harder target for thieves. If customers are aware that they have been noticed and that your staff have engaged them, even with a simple “hello, can I be of help?” they are less likely to steal.

Behavioural indicators TO LOOK FOR WHEN Identifying a shoplifter 1. Customers with a

pushchair or buggy without a child on board.

Sources: GCS (GB) Limited 3. Repeated visits to the

same department or display and loitering. They may be dumping items ready for a pickup later on.

4. Customers who are more

interested in watching your staff than looking at merchandise. They are waiting for a safe opportunity to pocket an item when you turn away.

5. Customer with unusual

quantities of the same product may warrant special attention.

6. Observe people closer

than normal to the merchandise. They may be leaning or standing closer so that they can conceal the theft from view.

• Offer a basket if they don’t have one. Great customer service can be an effective means by which to deter shoplifters.

• If in doubt, notify the situation to a manager.

Security Tagging Systems Whilst good customer service

can act as a strong deterrent to thieves, the sheer number of customers at peak times and the physical size of your business can make it impossible to prevent theft. A commonly used and effective solution is to protect your stock with a security tagging system, as used by virtually every national retailer. A security tagging system will

guard your stock and identifi es tagged products as the thief passes through the exit and

"customer theft

accounted for 82 % of all retail crime by volume in 2012-13"

alerts staff by instantly activating the alarm. For the legitimate customer, the security tag is deactivated at the point-of-sale as a transparent part of the purchase process. For further information and

help to prevent theft in your business, contact GCS.

Preventing a theft

• Approach the individual and offer advice or help. This lets the thief know they have been noticed and is likely to encourage them to move on.

Jeremy Davies is Managing Director of GCS (GB) Limited.


Jeremy Davies GCS (GB) Limited 07889 719 690



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