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How to Handle Shoplifters Through Customer Service

As a business owner, you want to do everything possible to prevent shoplifting. But what should you do if someone is caught in the act? This blog post will give you some tips on how to handle shoplifters and minimize loss for your business.

I’ll never forget the first time I had to deal with a shoplifter. I was working at my family’s store when I saw a woman put something in her purse and walk out of the store without paying. I confronted her outside and she denied it at first, but then she finally admitted that she had taken something from our store. It was such an upsetting experience, but luckily we were able to resolve it without any further incidents.

However, not all businesses are so lucky. In fact, retail theft costs businesses billions of dollars every year worldwide. So what can you do as a business owner or manager to prevent this from happening at your store? in this article, you will learn how to handle shoplifters through customer service.

Shoplifting Numbers in the United States

Shoplifting, or the literal “lifting” of goods from a store, is one of the most common crimes in the United States. Let’s look at the numbers from the National Association of Shoplifting Prevention (NASP).

  • Stores have to deal with around 550,000 shoplifting incidents per day.
  • Stores lose $13 billion every year, or $35 million every day, due to shoplifting.
  • One in every 11 Americans commits the crime of shoplifting. Habitual thieves steal 1.6 times per week on average.
  • Shoplifters only get caught once every 49 times they steal.
  • Only half of the shoplifters that are caught red-handed are turned over to the police.

Do shoplifters often walk into your store? Keep reading for shoplifting tips to help you keep your profits high.

How to Handle Shoplifters

There is no surefire way to prevent all shoplifting and theft, but the right strategies, training, and technology can help you minimize your losses from inventory shrinkage.

Make use of the tips and resources provided, be vigilant, and keep your business safe.

Loss Prevention Techniques

There are both proactive and reactive ways to prevent losses. Retailers can proactively use an inventory management system to ensure their stock levels are always accurate and up-to-date.

Retailers should proactively educate their employees on how to deal with shoplifters, and this training should take place on the store’s premises.

1. Inventory Management Technology

Preventing overselling, employee or customer theft, and other forms of inventory management can help your business avoid losses.

If you want to be sure that your inventory is accurate, invest in a point of sale system with real-time inventory management. This way, you can keep track of what you have in stock and avoid any shrinkage due to overstocking, theft, loss, or fraud.

2. Employee Training

Train sales associates on how to identify behaviors that may suggest someone is planning to steal and how to handle those situations. The last thing you want is for your staff to accuse someone of stealing when they haven’t done anything wrong.

The number one way to avoid employee theft of merchandise is with excellent customer service.

If you see someone who looks suspicious, approach them and treat them like any other customer. Ask if they need help finding anything and what they’re looking for. The feeling that they’re being watched is often enough to deter thieves.

Staff should never try to apprehend a shoplifter on their own. Instead, they should always reach out to a security guard or their managers for guidance. This way, the store can avoid any potential liability and ensure that the situation is handled in the most professional manner possible.

Be sure to include your store’s policy on how to handle theft in your employee training process. This way, everyone will be on the same page and know what to do if they witness a shoplifting incident. If the shoplifter leaves the store, review your security camera footage and circulate an image of the culprit internally to prevent them from doing it again.

3. Video Surveillance 

Installing hidden security cameras can help to deter shoplifting and protect your business.

When they know they are being watched, but don’t know where the cameras are located, they are likely to self-correct their behavior and not steal out of the fear of being caught.

There is a lot of scientific evidence to support the idea that surveillance can be an effective way to get people who are dishonest to change their behavior.

Security cameras play an important role in retail stores by providing visual evidence of shoplifting incidents. This footage can be used to identify and apprehend suspects, as well as to support any resulting legal proceedings.

4. Electronic Article Surveillance

EAS technology is a great way to protect your merchandise from theft. By tagging your merchandise with an EAS device, you can be sure that if someone tries to walk out of your store without paying, the loud sound will alert staff and deter the would-be thief.

How to Use Customer Service to Prevent Shoplifting

If you work in customer service, you can help prevent shoplifting in your store. By being attentive to customers and keeping an eye out for suspicious behavior, you can deter potential thieves.

If you see someone acting suspiciously, don’t hesitate to approach them and ask if they need assistance. Most shoplifters are looking for an opportunity to steal when no one is paying attention, so your vigilance can make all the difference.

Shoplifting is estimated to cost retailers close to 3% of their revenue each year. According to the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention, there is no single profile for shoplifters.

While teenagers are often associated with stealing, the truth is that 75% of thieves are older than 18. Both men and women are equally likely to steal, but only 25% of offenders are in their teenage years.

This statistic shows that shoplifting is not a phase or a young person’s problem. Of those who shoplift, they report only being caught 1 in every 48 times they steal.

When it comes to preventing shoplifting, potential shoplifters have reported that solid customer service from employees is the biggest deterrent. This includes greeting customers and attending to their needs.


How to handle shoplifters? Retailers can use store management techniques, layout, and inventory controls to combat shoplifting. By following common security practices, retailers can create an effective deterrent against shoplifting.

If your store has been designed to reduce shoplifting, another form of prevention is to use customer service techniques that take away opportunities for theft.