An Investment For Your Business

When new legislation passes in many states, the array of issues that come to new elected officials varies considerably.  

Shoplifting laws are one of the many topics legislators review to make sure the punishment is appropriate.  Businesses and small businesses in general need to be protected by the laws of the country to ensure the economic growth of a locality, the state and ultimately the country.

The punishment for shoplifting varies according to the state and in some instances the county where the business is located.  Laws are put in place to make sure these silent crimes are not committed with impunity, and the shoplifter is prosecuted according to the law. 

Unfortunately, many of these shoplifting incidents are not prosecuted for  many different reasons. Ultimately, it is up to the business to decide whether to prosecute the shoplifter or not.  As a business owner, they have to consider the costs associated with prosecuting shoplifters as a rule and whether it is economically sound to do so.

A lawyer’s fee for an hour or to prosecute a case depends on the region, the experience and the complexity of a case but, either way, their fee does not come cheap. 

 As a business owner, is it practical or economically possible for you to have a privately retained attorney? Is it your business practice to prosecute a shoplifter regardless of the quantity they steal?  There are many questions one needs to answer, and many options you have to make as a business owner regarding shoplifting.

Shoplifting in the United States have become a multi billion nightmare for businesses in the retail industry.  From the casual shoplifter to organized retail rings, the losses the retail industry suffers are staggering.  The small stores or shops in this industry have to fight and stop loses because their livelihood depends on their ability to stop the shoplifters. The profit margin from sales is too small for them to ignore the problem or to neglected it for too long.

For many of the small retail businesses, a loss prevention system that allows them to protect their merchandise and profits is one of the best ways to invest in their business.  Big retail chains have for many years now invested in loss prevention systems to help them minimize the losses and help them prevent shoplifting and employee theft. 

A loss prevention system that gives the employer or management of the store up to the minute information about the merchandise , allows them to do their job more efficiently and helps them prevent theft is an investment that will pay off sooner than you think.

To Prosecute Or Not – The Ball’s In Your Court

Does it matter whether you prosecute shoplifters? There are some retailers that will not prosecute a shoplifter if they catch them. Many retailers discourage their employees from following someone outside to get a vehicle description or license plate number even if they know someone stole from the store. Then there are the retailers that will allow managers to approach someone who is suspected of shoplifting. What is the best approach to addressing theft? Have you thought about why or how you approach the issue of theft?x

Why would a retailer catch a shoplifter but then not prosecute them for the crime? There are several reasons a store owner may choose not to charge a shoplifter if they do catch them. 

  • When a shoplifter is caught and sent to jail or in some cases a citation to appear may be presented, the store manager or person who caught the shoplifter has to go to court. This can be a time-consuming prospect. There are jurisdictions where the person who filed a complaint or prosecuted a shoplifter will be prosecuted themselves if they fail to appear in court for a case. 
  • Some store owners will use the promise of not prosecuting a crook if the merchandise is returned. The owner is more interested in getting their product back than what happens to the thief.
  • There are managers who do not prosecute because they feel badly for the shoplifter. They believe that consideration of the person’s circumstances is an appropriate response to an offender. For example a person may say they shoplifted food because they are hungry or they stole clothes because they are homeless or needed them and could not afford to purchase them.
  • There are situations when a store manager takes age into consideration. The apprehended party may be (or claims to be) a juvenile giving an age that falls into that state’s age bracket for juveniles. The manager may feel they are doing a favor by not marring the youth’s future opportunities with a criminal record. A manager may also feel sympathy for an elderly person because of advanced age or possible mental deterioration.

Each of these decisions has some merit on their own. There is nothing wrong with feeling badly for a person or their circumstances. There can be some ramifications that result from releasing someone who has been caught shoplifting if you are not careful. 

     Consider what happens if you decide not to prosecute someone and they leave your store after you have detained them and they were to be injured. I am always especially cautious when the party is identified as a juvenile. Anytime you are dealing with a child you have to be careful. If you choose not to contact the police after stopping someone, even if you retrieve your merchandise what proof do you have that you recovered anything from that person? Is there a chance you could be falsely accused of unlawfully detaining that person? Even if you do recover merchandise and no issue transpires, without a police officer being present to hear you tell the person not to return there is no documentation of the incident. Nothing prevents that shoplifter from returning to your store again. 

     Catching and prosecuting shoplifters does carry its own risks and headaches. Sometimes there are just no easy solutions. One thing you have to be very cautious of is inconsistency. If you prosecute one person and not another person are you at risk of being sued for discrimination? Could someone say you gave preferential treatment based on age, race, gender or any other factor because it was learned you previously allowed a break to other people?

     If you are going to allow managers to stop people for shoplifting it is crucial that they have received quality training on how to do so safely and consistently. Be certain not to allow any behavior that would endanger your employees and do stress that they are allowed to make decisions based on how they feel about their own safety. If they believe a shopper is stealing but the person’s behavior is threatening or intimidating in some manner trust your managers to back off or if it is serious enough to contact police. 

     No one can tell you the best approach to dealing with shoplifters. Ultimately it is your decision to make. What I can say is that a store with a focus on customer service and a strong retail anti-theft strategy can deter the vast majority of shoplifting and eliminate the need for prosecuting shoplifters because they will leave the store empty-handed.  

Keep Shoplifters From Stealing Your Holiday Spirit

It’s here! The holiday season and there is a spirit of goodwill that hopefully we all share towards each other. For retail owners and managers the joyful spirit is boosted when sales are good as customers are buying gifts and purchasing foods for baking and holiday meals. For the most part people seem to be a bit more patient towards each other (except maybe in a mall parking lot where drivers fight for the best parking places). It really is the most wonderful time of the year!

Unfortunately there are real Grinches out there who, for their own nefarious purposes have no compunction about committing crime that can steal your holiday spirit or that of your customers. These crooks create havoc for a store by stealing the hottest merchandise on the market or the most expensive merchandise. They may come in and take the latest video games off your shelf. They may be walking out in a new pair of sneakers or loading a couple of bottles of Grey Goose vodka under their coat at $70 a pop and waltzing out the doors. The impact is not isolated to the financial loss you experience from that particular item. The theft of your merchandise has a snowball effect that is magnified through the loss of additional sales.

I like to think of the impact of one shoplifter like the ripple effect of a rock tossed in a pond. The rock makes a splash that disturbs the water. The impact is immediate as the affect is seen with the splash. Then there are the waves that travel out from the point of impact. The water is disturbed far removed from the original landing point. When that shoplifter steals a video game you lose the $60 immediately. This is your cost plus the profit that you would have made. Now a customer comes in who wants to buy that game but it is gone and you lose a sale. You could make the argument you really have still lost only the $60 but wait a minute. You lost this sale and may have lost that paying customer from making future purchases at your store. This is the first ripple. Then no one on your staff notices that the empty spot for the game is there. They assume it was sold and wait for replenishment. How long does the store go before action is taken to replace the game? Now you have no idea how many other customers came in and did not bother to inquire about it because it wasn’t on the shelf? How generous is your return policy? Can the thief bring the game back unopened and get cash or a gift card? Now you are paying for the merchandise you already bought. You lose TWICE! The impact can be greater than even the confines of your store. Does the criminal trade it for illegal drugs and the drug dealer sells it online or to a mom and pop shop where you are undercut? That gift card may be sold online too by the way. In a sense one theft is supporting other illegal activities.

I don’t want to steal your holiday spirit but I do want you to understand that if you are not actively protecting merchandise from shoplifters they WILL steal your spirit and your merchandise. The sad part of this story to me is that many store owners could easily thwart shoplifters through a few relatively easy steps. First and foremost is a purchase of a Sensormatic security system. It is affordable! Too many owners look at it only as an expense and they don’t understand the benefits in shortage reduction. They work and they do significantly decrease theft in the store. The other step is to build a culture of customer service. We talk about it all of the time in retail but it has to be a genuine core principle in a store. Greeting customers as soon they walk into the building with a real hello is a start. Spending time finding out what they are in the store for is the way to sell and help accessorize purchases. The added bonus for the store is the deterrent effect that service has on shoplifting.

Retail crime does steal the joy from store owners and customers alike. The shopper is prevented from buying the special gift that a special person had their heart set on. The business owner is deprived of the merchandise and deals with the lingering effects of the crime. Take my advice protect merchandise with anti-theft devices, a Sensormatic security system and make customer service a priority in your store. You and your customers will truly feel the spirit of the season!


      

Suspect Signs Of Employee Theft? What Is Your Next Step?

Maybe you have seen it before and never gave it much thought, you walked by a cash register and saw a gift card lying next to it. A customer probably just changed their mind, right? Perhaps you saw your salesfloor person wearing a heavy jacket while working but you just attributed it to them being cold all the time. You may notice cash shortages periodically but they are under $10 and some people get busy and make little mistakes, it happens. Then there is the cashier that seems to be really interested in the store and always reports suspicious people he sees. He even asks managers if there might be security camera footage that could be reviewed to see the “suspect” in case they return. There is the saleswoman who finds a lot of empty packages on the floor and reports them to the manager and where she found them so managers would know about theft taking place in the store. These each seem like harmless issues on the surface but could there be something more nefarious going on under your nose? Is something starting to seem a bit curious after all? If you are suspecting something dishonest may be going on in your store what is your next step?

     You may be thinking this would be the time to call the police and report your suspicions. Hold your horses, what are you reporting, a gift card tucked next to a register? A couple of low dollar cash shortages? You won’t get very far with the police and they certainly aren’t going to do any investigation for you. The appropriate step is to contact Bill Bregar at Loss Prevention Systems, Inc. He will walk you through the next stages of what you need to do to look into this further. Sure you are busy and have a million things to do each day but if you suspect theft is taking place something has to be done before it gets out of hand. Then again maybe there is another way to tackle this. Yes, Bill will be happy to talk to you and discuss your case but it might be in your best interest to let Bill conduct the investigation for you.

     Why hire Bill to do the investigation for you? Well for starters Bill served in the U.S. Army as a Military Policeman, a Military Intelligence Officer and he was a police officer.  He is no stranger to conducting investigations. He is a trained and licensed private investigator, skills that are well suited to a successful retail investigation. Bill has also been a Retail Loss Prevention Director at the national level which makes him uniquely qualified to conduct store-level dishonest employee investigations. Who better to have on your side as a detective unless you could hire Sherlock Holmes and I hear he is currently unavailable?

      Are there other signals you might be overlooking that may indicate dishonest activity other than those touched upon earlier? Do you know where to begin looking? Do you know how to look for indications of employee’s conducting fraudulent refunds? What are the signals of sweetheart deals taking place under your nose? You can have an inkling that theft is happening in your store but if you know what signals to look for you can be sure when it takes place. The critical piece to getting your merchandise and/or cash back and restitution is a successful investigation. Loss Prevention Systems, Inc. has training seminars and workshops that can educate you on how employee theft takes place, signs to look for and how you can prevent it. When it does take place you will know what is going on and can call on Bill to be your personal gumshoe.

     Investigating employee theft is no game. Private investigators are a dime a dozen but finding a reputable company that is experienced in retail theft investigations is a more difficult task. Hiring an investigator with the background Bill has may seem to be an unattainable goal. Fortunately for the small and medium-sized retailers searching for a sleuth is simplified with a single stop at Loss Preventions Systems, Inc. Theft is probably happening in your store, the question is, what are you going to do about it?


Employee Training And Shoplifting

After the holidays, you probably have a whole array of chores you must do to decide whether you had a good or bad year.  The holidays are behind us, and if you seem eager to have new strategies to put in place, it is not uncommon, and you are not alone.  New year resolutions are abundant during this time of year, and even though many of them are related to exercise, eating and health issues, yours can be directed completely to the business side of your life.

For a retail business owner, employee training is always an important issue they should not neglect.  There are many aspects of every business that owners must take care of to ensure a well-run business and employee training is one of those important issues they must keep in mind.

Employee training has been shown to help businesses keep more of the profits, and to reduce the shoplifting happening at their stores.  Paying for employee training is one way of investing in your business, and seeing the return of investment right away.

One of the many benefits of employee training is the certainty your employees will know what to do in case a shoplifting incident occurs.  From the way they approach the suspected shoplifter, to the way they apprehend them, their training can be the difference between a lawsuit for your store or not.  The guidelines they are supposed to follow are clear for trained employees when dealing with a difficult situation, and a dangerous situation is clearly assessed and dealt with before lives are endangered.

Employee training can also be a deterrent to shoplifters.  Shoplifters will be less eager to enter your place of business if they know they will be approached and even questioned or apprehended if they do something illegal.  Making your business a place where shoplifting is hard can get around to other shoplifters.  Sharing the names of “easy” places to shoplift is well known among them, make yours the “hard” place shoplifters are unwilling to try.

Trained employees know how shoplifters behave and how they try to get away with stolen merchandise.  They know which items may be a target for shoplifters, and which ones if the opportunity presents itself will be stolen without a second thought.


 

 

Shoplifting And The Law

Law changes across the United States dealing with shoplifting are always changing.  Police departments across states work among businesses to protect them from shoplifting and other illegal activities. Businesses need and demand harsher sentences to deter shoplifting.  Businesses dealing with shoplifting are inarguably in accordance with the police force, and want solutions to protect their business and ultimately their bottom line.  When training your loss prevention personnel, what is allowed and what is prohibited according to the law, must be addressed with them and with the management of your company. A well trained loss prevention officer can be the difference between a law suit or not.

For more about this topic, follow the links below.


Civil Demand Letters After You Are Busted For Shoplifting

Shoplifters who were caught and released are getting an additional scare in the mail after the event occurs. You may have been caught lifting a pack of gum, or a shirt from a local store. When you were caught you may have just been asked some questions and let go on the spot. However, a letter might come in the mail to scare you after the fact even if you aren’t arrested.

Typically when you are caught shoplifting in Illinois, the store gets their merchandise back undamaged, on the spot. There are no damages incurred by the store, as they are free to sell that t-shirt or pack of gum. However, some law firms are coming after shoplifters in an attempt to gain monetarily for the event. A letter arrives, from a law firm claiming damages and back legal fees they claim a shoplifter owes.  This is called a civil demand letter. This letter does not mean any charges have been filed against the shoplifter and the person who receives the letter probably shouldn’t pay. In my opinion, making the payment admits guilt.


Know Your Rights if a Store Detains You for Shoplifting

Being detained by a store or mall security office under suspicion of shoplifting is an experience no one wants to have. Often mall security will try to pressure you into signing a statement admitting your guilt (often threatening to call the police if you don’t) or force you to pay restitution for your offense, but in some cases things can escalate. If you’re detained for shoplifting—regardless of whether you’re innocent or guilty—you have rights. Here’s what you need to know.

This post is part of our Evil Week series at Lifehacker, where we look at the dark side of getting things done. Knowing evil means knowing how to beat it, so you can use your sinister powers for good. Want more? Check out our evil week tag page.
What Has to Happen for a Store to Detain You

The first thing you need to know is what a store has to have or has to see in order to exercise their right to detain you. First, a witness or employee needs to establish probable cause.


Shoplifting offenses are fairly common, but that doesn’t mean shoplifting crimes aren’t taken seriously.

Shoplifting offenses are fairly common, but that doesn’t mean shoplifting crimes aren’t taken seriously. Every state’s penal code includes provisions that apply to shoplifting (usually under the umbrella of theft or larceny statutes), and penalties can be harsh — especially when the dollar value of the merchandise is high, or the offender has a criminal record.

What is Shoplifting?

Shoplifting is typically defined more broadly than the simple removal of merchandise from a store without paying for it. You can also be charged with shoplifting (or retail fraud) for things like:

  • altering a price tag
  • removing (or even just trying to remove) security tags and other theft-prevention
  • “secreting” an item on your person while still in the store (putting merchandise in your pocket or purse), and
  • removing an item from its packaging and concealing it in or among other merchandise.

 

The Advantages of Hiring and Training Good Employees

A study done by the University of California at Berkley found that hiring a new employee costs an approximate $4,000 dollars per employee and in hiring for higher positions-professionals and management level employees-the figure increases to $7,000. If you are a small business, then the figure increases per every new employee you are trying to hire.  If you are a small business that offers other benefits to their employees, the cost increases considerably.  The importance of hiring quality employees, or training the employees you already have, are an economic advantage many businesses cannot pass.  Hiring and training new employees is expensive, why not do it right the first time? Background checks, and recommendations from other employers are not something you can take lightly.  Checked them before you hire, and it would likely paid dividends.

For more about this and other stories, follow the links below.


Loss Prevention Management Must Focus on Quality Recruitment and Retention

Loss prevention management has the power to improve understanding, morale, and workplace inclusion.

Let’s face it—the bottom line to any corporate organization is the profit margin. However, those in executive loss prevention management should always be mindful that quality of service drives the margin. Factors that lead to high-quality service are often the result of well-retained employees. Specifically, all management levels need to be mindful of what policies work, what don’t work, and what looks promising.

Recruitment and Training

Think back to when you first joined your company. What was your initial impression of the first few people you met when you went in for the initial interview? Do you remember their general attitude about the company?

Chances are that your initial impression was positive. Perhaps this is why you stayed. Do you think the same attitudes are being conveyed to new recruits today? If not, you might consider those colleagues who left the company. What was it about their experiences that differed from yours, that made them leave?


The Square Alliance met this morning to discuss ways to combat the increase in shoplifting in the hub of Oxford’s shopping. Business owners had a Q&A with OPD investigator Chris Case about how to prevent shoplifting and deal with those who are caught in the act.

Case provided tips in shoplifting prevention such as a more visible security system, keeping an eye out for suspicious activity and more. Business owners voiced their opinions and discussed certain tricks and trends that they’ve noticed shoplifters using to attempt to steal merchandise. Case mentioned that shoplifters will usually work in pairs rather than alone to attempt to distract workers while they commit the crime.

A heavy importance was placed on figuring out how to deal with shoplifters when they are caught in the act to find the balance of ensuring security but not overstepping the boundaries. Businesses and workers have the ability to recover stolen merchandise and keep the violator in the store until the authorities arrive, as long as they have probable cause. It is also unlawful to lock them in a small space such as a closet or use force.


Wal-Mart has a unique way to cut down on shoplifting

Wal-Mart has taken the law into its own hands. 

No, the company has not started its own jail, and any employee who wears a cape and fights crime must still do so on his own time. Instead, the retail chain has taken a new approach to fighting shoplifting that requires less involvement from the police. The retailer has been using a “restorative justice” program in 1,500 of its stores, according to The Gainesville Sun. That’s a program in which people deemed low-risk, first-time offenders are given the choice of paying to take an anti-shoplifting course rather than facing arrest and prosecution.

The effort is in its early days, but the results have been good so far. The company has seen a 35% reduction in calls to law enforcement nationwide since restorative justice programs were first implemented, Wal-Mart spokesman Ragan Dickens told The Sun in an email.

“No retailer is immune to the challenge of crime. We recognize the importance of this issue at the highest levels of the company, and we are investing in people and technology to support our stores,” he wrote, noting that police are not being cut out of the loop.