Preventing Shoplifting Without Being Sued: Practical Advice for Retail Executives
Psychosocial motivations may include peer pressure , a desire for thrill or excitement, impulse, stealing because judgment is clouded by intoxication , or doing so because of a compulsion. Shoplifting is also associated with family or marital stress, social isolation, having had a difficult childhood, alcoholism or drug use, low self-esteem, and eating disorders , with bulimic shoplifters frequently stealing food. Some researchers have theorized that shoplifting is an unconscious attempt to make up for a past loss.
Researchers have found that the decision to shoplift is associated with pro-shoplifting attitudes, social factors, opportunities for shoplifting and the perception that the shoplifter is unlikely to be caught. Researchers say that shoplifters justify their shoplifting through a variety of personal narratives, such as believing they are making up for having been victimized, that they are unfairly being denied things they deserve, or that the retailers they steal from are untrustworthy or immoral. A program in West Texas designed to reduce recidivism repeat offenses among convicted adult shoplifters identified eight common beliefs of shoplifters:.
Developmental psychologists believe that children under the age of nine shoplift to test boundaries, and that tweens and teenagers shoplift mainly for excitement or the thrill, are "acting out" or depressed, or are being pressured by their peers. Researches say that around the world, in countries including the United States, Canada , Australia, Brazil , Mexico , South Africa, Japan and India, people tend to shoplift the same types of items, and frequently even the same brands.
But there are also differences in shoplifting among different countries that reflect those countries' general consumption habits and preferences. In Milan , saffron , an expensive component of risotto alla Milanese , is frequently shoplifted, and throughout Italy , parmigiano reggiano is often stolen from supermarkets. In France, the anise-flavoured liqueur ricard is frequently stolen, and in Japan, experts believe that manga comics , electronic games and whisky are most frequently stolen.
Bookstores and magazine sellers in Japan have also complained about what they call "digital shoplifting", which refers to the photographing of material in-store for later reading. Packaged cheese has been the most frequently shoplifted item in Norway , with thieves selling it afterwards to pizza parlours and fast food restaurants. Shoplifting is the largest single source of lost goods.
Observers believe that industry shoplifting numbers are over half employee theft or fraud and the rest by patrons. Of course, if apprehended during the shoplifting the merchandise is generally recovered by the retailers and there is often no loss to the store owner when the merchandise is surrendered to the store by the suspects.
In addition, in many states retailers have the right to recover civil damages to cover the cost of providing security. According to a December 23, , article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette , Dimperio's Market, the only full-service grocery store in the Hazelwood neighborhood of Pittsburgh , Pennsylvania , closed because of shoplifters.
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In most cases in the United States, store employees and managers have certain powers of arrest. Store officials may detain for investigation for a reasonable length of time , the person who they have probable cause to believe is attempting to take or has unlawfully taken merchandise see shopkeeper's privilege.
Store employees may also have citizen's arrest powers,  but absent a statute granting broader authority a citizen's arrest power is normally available only for felony offenses, while shoplifting is usually a misdemeanor offense. In the United States, store employees who detain suspects outside of and inside the store premises are generally granted limited powers of arrest by state law, and have the power to initiate criminal arrests or civil sanctions, or both, depending upon the policy of the retailer and the state statutes governing civil demands and civil recovery for shoplifting as reconciled with the criminal laws of the jurisdiction.
Preventing Shoplifting Without Being Sued: Practical Advice for Retail Executives
In the Islamic legal system called Sharia , " hudud " meaning limits or restrictions calls for " Sariqa " theft to be punished by amputation of the thief's hand. This punishment is categorized as " hadd ", meaning a punishment that restrains or prevents further crime.
Sariqa is interpreted differently in different countries and by different scholars, and some say it does not include shoplifting. Shoplifting may be prevented and detected. Closed-circuit television CCTV monitoring is an important anti-shoplifting technology. Electronic article surveillance EAS is another method of inventory protection. Radio-frequency identification RFID is an anti-employee-theft and anti-shoplifting technology used in retailers such as Walmart , which already heavily use RFID technology for inventory purposes.
Loss prevention personnel can consist of both uniformed officers and plain-clothed store detectives. Large department stores will use both and smaller stores will use one or the other depending on their shrink strategy. Store detectives will patrol the store acting as if they are real shoppers.
The presence of uniformed officers acts as a deterrent to shoplifting activity and they are mostly used by high-end retail establishments. Shoppers in some stores are asked when leaving the premises to have their purchases checked against the receipt. Some expensive merchandise will be in a locked case requiring an employee to get items at a customer's request.
The customer is required to purchase the merchandise immediately, or it is left at the checkout area for the customer to purchase when finishing shopping. Many stores also lock CDs, DVDs, and video games in locking cases, which can only be opened by the checkout operator once the item has gone through the checkout. Some stores will use dummy cases, also known as "dead boxes", in which the box or case on the shelf is entirely empty and the customer will not be given the item they have paid for until the transaction has been completed, usually by other store staff.
Security guards are generally given the following criteria that must be met before apprehending a shoplifting suspect: .
Many stores will put up signs warning about the consequences of shoplifting or signs warning about the use of surveillance cameras in the store. That is intended to deter people from trying to shoplift. Retailers focusing on loss prevention often devote most of their resources to this technology.
Using CCTVs to apprehend shoplifters in the act requires full-time human monitoring of the cameras. Sophisticated CCTV systems discriminate the scenes to detect and segregate suspicious behaviour from numerous screens and to enable automatic alerting. However, the attentiveness of the surveillance personnel may be threatened by false reliance on automatics. The EAS system will warn of a potential shoplifter and the video may provide evidence for prosecution if the shoplifter is allowed to pass checkout points or leave store premises with unbought merchandise.
Many stores will use public-view monitors in the store to show people there that they are being recorded. That is intended as a deterrent to shoplifting. Some stores use inexpensive dummy cameras. Even though these fake cameras cannot record images, their presence may deter shoplifting.
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Electronic article surveillance EAS are magnetic or radio-frequency tags that sound an alarm if a shoplifter leaves a store with store items that have not been paid for. Some stores also have detection systems at the entrance to the bathrooms that sound an alarm if someone tries to take unpaid merchandise with them into the bathroom.
Regularly, even when an alarm does sound, a shoplifter walks out casually and is not confronted if no guards are present because of the high number of false alarms, especially in malls, due to "tag pollution" whereby non-deactivated tags from other stores set off the alarm. This can be overcome with newer systems and a properly trained staff.
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Some new systems either do not alarm from "tag pollution" or they produce a specific alarm when a customer enters the store with a non-deactivated tag so that store personnel can remove or deactivate it so it does not produce a false alarm when exiting the store. However, spider wrap may be used instead of tags. Some tags are stuck onto merchandise with glue rather than being superimposed on the shoplifter can easily scrape off the tag in their pocket. Pedestal EAS covers, which are made of durable vinyl, offer cost-effective means of adding a marketing tool at every entrance to a store; they are also custom-manufactured to fit any pedestal and can be printed to highlight specific brands or seasonal promotions.
They do not interfere with the performance of the EAS systems and are easily cleaned or changed. Stores may employ technology to detect jammers and magnets. If a product with an active RFID tag passes the exit scanners at a Walmart outlet, not only does it set off an alarm, but it also tells security personnel exactly what product to look for in the shopper's cart. Add-on metal detector systems will be used in some stores with electronic article surveillance which sense metallic surfaces.
They are used to deter the use of booster bags which are used to shield EAS tags. Store detectives patrol the store wearing plainclothes and acting as if they are real shoppers. They may browse, examine, carry, or even try on merchandise, all the while looking for signs of shoplifting and looking for possible shoplifters. Many large retail companies use that technique. Store detectives will watch a shoplifting suspect conceal an item, then stop them after they have exited the store.
Those types of personnel must follow a strict set of rules because of very high liability risks. Many big retail or grocery stores like Walmart , Rite Aid , Zellers , and Loblaws have a store detective to watch for shoplifters. Most of those stores use secret verbal codes over the PA system to alert management, other loss prevention personal and associates that there is a shoplifter. Store detectives must follow a suspect around the store by foot or by watching video monitors and observe every move the person makes so that they do not face a lawsuit for apprehending or arresting the wrong person.
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