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Protecting Retail Businesses from Shoplifting

According to the Office for National Statistics theft in general has increased with 1.7million offences in the year to June, up ten per cent on the previous period.

According to a recent article the Police recorded a total of 365,164 offences as shops and stores are increasingly targeted.

Let’s look at the legal aspects of dealing with shoplifting, retail sector advice, USDAW (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) recommendations, proactive measures to prevent shoplifting, and the necessary steps to take if staff are physically or emotionally harmed during such incidents.

Understanding the Law:

Shoplifting is a criminal offence in most jurisdictions. Offenders can be prosecuted under various laws, such as theft, fraud, or larceny, depending on the circumstances.

Retailers have the right to detain a suspected shoplifter on their premises, provided they follow legal guidelines.

However, excessive use of force or false imprisonment can lead to legal consequences for the retailer.

Retail Sector Advice:

Retailers should implement comprehensive security measures to deter shoplifting, including surveillance cameras, security personnel, and electronic article surveillance systems.

Additionally, training staff to recognise suspicious behaviour and handle confrontations professionally and with care can prevent escalation.

USDAW Recommendations:

USDAW recommends a proactive approach to prevent shoplifting, emphasising the importance of well-trained team of staff and collaboration with local law enforcement agencies.

They also stress the significance of creating a safe and supportive work environment for retail employees.

Proactive Measures to Prevent Shoplifting:

  1. Employee Training: Train staff to identify potential shoplifters without making assumptions based on appearance.

  2. Visible Security: Install surveillance cameras and employ uniformed security personnel to deter thieves.

  3. Customer Service: Engage customers with excellent service, as active staff presence can discourage shoplifters.

  4. Inventory Management: Organize the store layout for better visibility, minimising blind spots where theft can occur.

  5. Anti-Theft Devices: Use security tags, alarms, and locks on high-value items to prevent theft.

Reporting Procedures for Shoplifting:

If a shoplifting incident occurs, employees should follow these steps:

  1. Observe Safely: If an employee suspects shoplifting, they should observe discreetly and avoid unnecessary confrontation.

  2. Alert Security: If available, inform store security or management immediately.

  3. Do Not Confront Alone: Avoid confronting suspected shoplifters alone to prevent potential conflicts.

  4. Co-operate with Authorities: If necessary, involve the police or enforcement agencies, providing them with accurate information and evidence.

  5. Document Incident: Maintain a record of the incident, including date, time, descriptions, and any actions taken.

Dealing with Staff Harassment:

In case retail staff members are physically or emotionally harmed during a shoplifting incident, the following steps are crucial:

  1. Immediate Medical Attention: Ensure the injured staff member receives prompt medical attention if required.

  2. Report to Authorities: Contact the police immediately and provide them with a detailed account of the incident.

  3. Emotional Support: Offer emotional support to the affected staff member, possibly through counselling services.

  4. Document and Report: Document the incident thoroughly and report it to relevant workplace safety authorities.

  5. Legal Action: Encourage the affected staff member to seek legal advice regarding compensation and support during recovery.

Preventing shoplifting requires a combination of legal knowledge, industry expertise, and proactive measures.

By understanding the law, following expert advice, implementing preventive strategies, and having clear reporting procedures in place, retailers can create a safer environment for their staff and customers while minimising financial losses associated with theft.

Contact us to learn more -


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