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How to Prevent Shoplifting: Tips for Retailers

As a retailer, it is important to take steps to prevent theft in your store. This is something that I know from personal experience as I used to shoplift frequently when I was younger. It wasn’t until I got caught and had to face the consequences that I realized how serious of a crime it is. Nowadays, I make sure to be extra vigilant when working in retail so that no one tries to steal from our store. Here are some tips on how to prevent shoplifting.

How to Prevent Shoplifting

Theft is a huge problem for businesses, big and small. It can be extremely costly, and it can really hurt your bottom line. But there are ways to combat theft, and you can put measures in place to help prevent it from happening in the first place.

Learn how to prevent shoplifting before they steal from you.

1. Lock-Up High-Risk Items.

Shoplifters are likely to target small, valuable, and easy-to-pocket items like jewelry. So store them close to the register, preferably inside a locked container. This will ensure that no one has unsupervised access to high-priced items.

Obviously, not everything can be locked up, but by being aware of which items are most at risk, you can help reduce theft.

2. Train Your Staff to Spot Crooks.

Your store employees are your best defense when it comes to preventing theft.

Teach your employees what types of behavior to look out for that could indicate someone is attempting to shoplift.

Additionally, instruct them on how to best avoid being scammed by would-be thieves. One way they can deter criminals is by greeting each person who enters the store and paying close attention to activity throughout the store.

To send the message that you and all your staff are aware of what’s happening in the store at any time, have your employees check in on customers from time to time and ask if they need help. Potential thieves will feel less likely to try to steal anything if they know they are being watched.

3. Post the Consequences of Stealing in Public.

To protect your merchandise, post your anti-theft policies in prominent places, such as in the changing rooms. Installing cameras and mirrors throughout our stores also acts as an extra deterrent.

4. Be Aware of Dressing Rooms.

If you don’t have a large staff, it may seem like a hassle to constantly unlock and lock dressing rooms. However, this is a necessary measure to take to prevent theft.

By numbering the tags for each item that a customer tries on, you are creating a barrier to shoplifting. This will keep your store inventories safe.

Ensure that all bags are checked before entering the fitting room. This is for your safety and the safety of your staff.

5. Engage with Customers.

When customers enter the store, always greet them warmly and let them know that you and your employees are available to help with anything they need. Make sure to circulate throughout the store regularly, checking in with customers and asking how you can assist them. By providing great customer service, you will create a positive shopping experience that will keep customers coming back.

When you provide great customer service, you’re also deterring potential thieves by monitoring store activity. By being attentive to customers, you make it harder for anyone to steal without being noticed.

6. Schedule Appropriately.

Sometimes people get busy randomly. It happens. But on days when you know that you’re going to be busy, like weekends or holidays, trying to run your business with a bare-bones crew can leave you open to theft.

Shoplifting is easier when your employees are busy at the register or helping another customer. This is because the employee is often distracted by another person while the thief takes the merchandise. This shoplifting tactic is easy to spot and prevent.

Make sure your employees are up to date on the common behaviors of shoplifters so they can better identify them and stop them.

7. Install Cameras and Mirrors.

If you want to help prevent and prosecute shoplifters, consider installing cameras and security mirrors in your store. These can help you identify potential shoplifters and may also act as theft deterrents.

Signs of a Shoplifter

Train your employees on how to recognize signs of shoplifting. Signs of suspicious behavior include:

  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Looking at the staff instead of the products
  • Going in and out of the store without buying anything
  • Wearing bulky clothing when unnecessary
  • Entering the store with a large group

What the Law Says About Shoplifting

Shoplifting is considered a form of theft and is subject to prosecution. The shoplifting laws vary a lot in different states in the US.

If you are caught shoplifting in the United States, store employees and managers have the power to arrest you.

If you are facing shoplifting charges, one option is to talk to the retailer and see if they are willing to drop the charges in exchange for payment. This can help avoid a conviction on your record.

If the State won’t drop your case, it is important to seek out a qualified attorney who can advise you on how to best avoid a conviction. There may be options available to you that can help you keep your record clean.

What are The Consequences of Shoplifting

Shoplifting is a crime that can be charged in many states as theft or larceny. This is usually referred to as petty theft, or the lowest-level offense in the state if the merchandise is less than a certain threshold.

In other states, shoplifting is considered a less severe offense than standard theft and is thus punishable as an infraction rather than a misdemeanor.

If you are caught shoplifting in the state of Massachusetts and it is your first offense, you will be fined no more than $250 if the stolen merchandise is less than $100. You will not go to jail.

The seriousness of the criminal charge for stealing something increases with the value of that item.


As a retailer, it’s important to take steps how to prevent shoplifting in your store. By following the tips outlined in this blog post, you can help deter would-be thieves and keep your business safe.