Importance Of Inventory Control-How Out Of control Are Profits Without Inventory Control?

 Out of control spending may be okay for the federal government (Let’s be frank 20+ trillion of debt seems pretty out of control to most of us) but as a store owner or manager out of control expenses will bury your company. I am sure that you are looking carefully at where you spend your cash, reviewing controllable reports and monthly expenses. What you may not be considering is how operating a store without inventory controls in place can be negatively impacting the profits of your store. 

     When I talk about inventory controls I am not simply referring to activities on inventory night, I am talking about everything the store does all year to control merchandise. For example, the store I work for receives their pallets of freight several times a week. Included in these pallets are sealed plastic shipping boxes that hold individual pieces of merchandise. Some of these boxes have different colored seals and colored seals are indicators that the merchandise inside is high value/high theft goods requiring strict controls. The merchandise in these boxes requires security devices or immediate lock-up. When I was a Loss Prevention Manager for another company we had a lock-up cage we staged at the trailer receiving door. As specific high-risk merchandise came off of the trailer that product immediately went into the cage. That merchandise had to get to its department following a very specific path and if I observed any deviation from that path I was investigating the issue. The store where my daughter works requires all jewelry shipments be taken immediately to the jewelry counter, counted against the invoice and stocked. Jewelry is not allowed to sit out until it is convenient to secure it. Having a detailed plan for identifying high-risk products, verifying counts against invoices right away and immediately securing it are smart steps in preventing inventory shortage from getting out of control. 

     Electronic article surveillance (EAS) systems are another key piece of a sound inventory control strategy. When I mentioned securing products above it does not necessarily mean that merchandise has to go into a lock-up case. Most merchandise can be protected against theft with EAS labels, hard tags, wraps and other protective devices (for example Sensormatic has a product called Flexible Safers that can hold items and still give EAS protection). There are some things that a display case is appropriate to display merchandise in such as high-end jewelry. By the same token, there are EAS products suitable for costume and less valuable jewelry. Inventory control of such pieces of merchandise means tagging these items by a team of trusted employees before they are on the sales floor and accessible by other employees or shoppers. An EAS system also includes the installation of towers at all points of entrance and exit. A common error on the part of many retailers is the failure to place towers near vendor doors and employee-only entry doors. Failing to protect these doorways is a misstep in recognizing the reality of employee theft and the impact it has on store profitability. 

     Inventory control also takes place in in-store training programs. Teaching employees how the customer service they provide helps prevent shoplifting plays a part in inventory control. Training front end supervisors and cashiers how to properly handle EAS alarm activations determines how much merchandise you may or may not recover from potential thieves. Even the proper training of specialists who show merchandise from lock-up showcases impacts the potential for a crook to steal. How many pieces of jewelry should be out of a case to show a customer at any time? One, two, or three items? You have to teach your team what you expect and how someone may try to trick them while they are showing merchandise. 

     Inventory control is a year-round effort. It encompasses more than locking up merchandise or preparing for an annual inventory. Inventory control requires an in-depth look at where losses can take place, how they occur and who may be causing the losses. Once you do that you can implement solutions to the problem by creating a comprehensive shortage prevention strategy. Do that and you keep from losing control over your store profit line.  

Did The Grinch Steal Your Retail Christmas? 

Wow, Christmas is over and Retailers are starting to dig out from the carnage. Unfortunately, some of the carnage is all the merchandise that shoplifters have liberated from your store. I believe that theft is actually the oldest vice around. Even older than “the oldest profession”. As long are there are two things on this earth 1-people and 2-stuff, there will be theft. Well, neither is going away anytime soon. So what do we do?  

The first thing is to make the decision to take your store back from the enemy. Putting the solution off will not fix the problem and it will get worse. The second is to implement the two proven solutions. Training and a Sensormatic system. 

TRAINING – Over the past 35 years I have heard countless retailers say the same thing. “I don’t know what I can or cannot do with or about shoplifters”. Shoplifters are no different than any other business challenge we face. Attack it head-on. Loss Prevention Systems can educate you on what you can and cannot do. But more importantly, we will take you off the defensive and put you on the offense. Now I know what you may be thinking right now. “I am not going to chase shoplifters down and tackle them!”. Well, I am glad we got that out because we do not want you to do that either. We want to prevent the loss from occurring (that’s why we call ourselves Loss Prevention Systems, Inc. What a coincidence, huh?).  

Training should cover a discussion of the problem itself, the law both criminal and civil, who shoplifters are and how to spot them before they even steal, going on the offensive with customer service tactics and more. We do this live via webinar with as many of your folks as you can pull together. I have actually found that most of the time we need to do two sessions so we do not leave the store short staffed or someone misses out. Training will help give you the confidence to attack the shoplifting scourge head-on. 

SENSORMATIC SYSTEM – “So if I am trained, why do I need a Sensormatic system and Sensormatic security labels?” Great question, glad you asked that! (sorry, I am in one of those moods) Consider this, training is only half of the solution. You and your staff can be trained up in the techniques to prevent and deal with shoplifting but you cannot be everywhere at once, even in a small boutique. Shoplifters WILL create an environment where they can steal. On top of that what you will find is that some of your “best” customers are also actually stealing from you. Yes, that good customer is buying merchandise, either small inexpensive items or even more expensive ones but they are actually stealing other merchandise in addition to that. And because they are a “best” or frequently seen customer less attention is paid to their activities. They are kind of a fixture, they hang out a bit, joke with the staff, ask questions and then…. They are simply not observed because “that’s just Sam or Wendy, they are really nice”. 

So to handle all that you will find that a Sensormatic system is actually cheaper than additional payroll. In addition to that, the Sensormatic system never takes a day off, does not call in sick or no show. The Sensormatic system is working 24/7. Actually, many of our systems actually power themselves down after you close to save on your energy bill. They automatically wake themselves up when you come in the next day. 

A Sensormatic system has two benefits. It sends a message to the thieves (real customers do not care) and prevents losses. And, of course, the tags and labels are actually protecting your merchandise and bottom line. 

So there are no more excuses. Make this year the best yet for sales you make and actually keep the margin make on the bottom line. Grinch, GO AWAY! Contact us today. We can make both Training and a Sensormatic system your reality. 


A Proper Reflection Of The Past Year Can Make The New Year Even Better

It is January and you are ready to get started on your new year. What does the start of a New Year look like for your business? Are you still trying to move out seasonal and clearance merchandise? Are you preparing to trim back payroll by releasing seasonal employees? Maybe you are already thinking about inventory and what you will need to do to prepare for that day. There are all sorts of ways retail owners and managers start the New Year but I would suggest that before you look forward you take time to look back on the previous year. 

There are a couple of reasons I would suggest reflecting on what the past year has been like for the business. First, by taking the time to reflect on the year you can celebrate the store wins with the entire store team. Employees want to know how their contributions have helped the store meet goals that were set. You may have one or one hundred successes to share but your entire team has put in the work and should be given a chance to share in the successes. It can be a simple cake in the breakroom or a small in-store party but let your employees know that their efforts paid off and are appreciated.  

 Another reason for reflection is that you can evaluate what did not go as planned. This is when you pull out planning documents or action plans and look at what goals were not reached. Did you meet your sales goals? Did you make stock shortage objectives? Did you meet your employee turnover goals? If you cannot celebrate an item as a win you will want to move that to the new store action plan for this year. You and your management team will need to consider what can be done differently to achieve the goals you set and missed. This is not a 5-minute task. This will require the team to drill down to the causes that led to a missed goal and then plan how to improve it. Sometimes this can feel personal and everyone needs to leave their feelings outside the room. Approach the problem as a group and find ways to help each other with action items. 

One of my favorite tools for a New Year is what I have adopted from several workplaces, a “What Works/What Didn’t Work” session. I have seen these done by only a management team but the truly effective sessions include team members and hourly staff. The employees will often provide you with insight into problems you did not know existed. Here is an example; you may think you have a good return policy and your return desk employees are happy. You don’t see anything that indicates problems with your refund program. What you may not be aware of is that your service desk employees are unhappy because they feel that managers are not supporting them after they turn down a refund with no receipt. The managers are called when the customer is upset and the manager arrives and tells the customer they “will take care of it”. Sure, the customers are happy and the policies look like they are enforced but the service desk employees feel foolish and undermined. A “What Worked/What Didn’t Work” session can help you see how you can improve policies, services and improve morale. When you conduct one, make sure you also ask your employees for suggestions on how to improve what they think did not work. Don’t let it simply be a gripe session. It also allows you to clarify reasons some policies may be in place that employees were unaware of before the meetings. 

After you have celebrated, evaluated and set new goals you are almost ready to jump into your New Year. Make sure your goals are realistic and create plans that will be effective in achieving those goals. If reducing shortage by .5% is your goal, you may want to install an Electronic Article Surveillance system. If making your hiring process easier and reducing paperwork is a goal, Loss Prevention Systems, Inc. can help you with their Applicant Management Center. If parking lot break-ins are an issue you can request improved lighting from your property management company. If you need help in risk assessment and loss reduction Loss Prevention Systems, Inc. offers a consultation package that involves everything from an onsite visit to a comprehensive loss prevention policies and procedures package. 

Start your year off right with a look back at the previous year. Share wins, evaluate opportunities and work as a team to create plans that will lead to an even better year than last. Make 2019 a year of growth and prosperity and consider taking Loss Prevention Systems, Inc. along as a partner!


 

Resolved Or Solved? How Planning Can Make New Year’s Resolutions Work

Have you ever noticed how we all anticipate a New Year will bring new and exciting things into our lives (or businesses) but after the first month we often realize that nothing is new or improved or better? In fact, we may be disappointed as the year progresses that problems we hoped would be resolved (read, “magically disappear”) are still there. We make resolutions at the beginning of the year that are meant to help “improve” or “fix” something we know is an opportunity but then we slide back into our routines and those “problems” don’t get any better.

     In retail, those problems may involve personnel issues such as hiring and retention. Concerns may be for store profitability including expenses, sales, and shortage. Maybe concerns are over what may be classified non-controllable expenses, building rent, taxes, etc. Wishing problems away is not a solution nor is a resolution. If you want to resolve to solve problems you have you need to create an actual action plan and then take a partner(s) to stick to it, often one of your store managers or department management team. As you look at the areas of opportunity and break them down you can find that correcting one area can make a significant impact on other areas. Let me give you an example of what I mean.

e.g You identify that you have an issue with excessively high merchandise shrink.

      You need to identify all of the possible causes of the shortage problem.

  1. Do you use retail anti-theft devices?
  2. If you use a Sensormatic security system are you tagging everything?
  3. What areas are your highest shortage departments and are they vendor serviced?
    • If they are vendor serviced are you checking in and out vendors?
    • Are you improperly tossing out of date merchandise rather than receiving vendor credits?  
  4. Is employee theft causing shrinkage you haven’t seen?
    • Do you complete pre-employment background checks before hiring?
    • Do you require pre-employment drug screening?
    • Do you know the signals to look for that would indicate an employee may be stealing?
  5. Do you control your compactor and who throws out the trash and if you have a baler who is crushing cardboard?
    • Employees and vendors who are stealing and have access to a compactor will toss out the empty packages they would otherwise leave behind.
    • Uncontrolled compactors mean anyone can throw away anything that looks like trash but some small items can be overlooked and thrown away and cause a shortage.

These are not all of the contributors to a shortage. You can continue to drill down and I would encourage you and your team to do so. The project doesn’t stop there. Once you have identified the issues you need to create an action plan to address each concern. The plan should also include benchmarks or measurements that will show you are doing what you said you would do. There must also be deadlines for completion.

     There are areas that will cross over and can be beneficial to each section. Let’s say that you have focused on shortage and you also believe you have a hiring/retention problem. It seems people are going in and out like a revolving door. You have to ask yourself are you hiring the right people in the first place. If your employees keep leaving it could be they have stolen from you to get what they want and they are leaving before you catch on to them. If you start doing background checks you will be more selective in who you are bringing on your team. You may have been hiring a lot of people with criminal records or spotty work histories. Being selective and hiring the right people can also build a more dependable workforce. This leads to improved morale, more initiative and a better work ethic overall. Improving your hiring can improve shortage results due to dishonest employee activity.

     Another example of crossover would be compactor controls. Start regulating who is tossing out the trash and you impact retail shrinkage but you may also find that merchandise that was being overlooked is now being stocked more carefully. Overlooked items are getting back on the sales floor. Not only do you reduce shortage you improve sales.

     Wishing the New Year will bring improvements is no way to operate a business. Planning and follow through on those plans will bring about the positive changes you want to see. Resolve that 2019 will be a year of growth and profitable sales! Happy New Year!


          

New Year’s Resolutions That Help The Environment And Can Keep Stores Profitable

It’s 2019 and time to make some New Year’s resolutions! We all know how easy a resolution can be to make but they are hard to keep. We also know that it is just as easy to break a resolution but are there resolutions a store owner can make that would benefit the store AND benefit society? I think one resolution that would be mutually beneficial for both would be the implementation of environment-friendly policies and procedures. We are talking about sensible measures that would appeal to anyone on either side of the political spectrum. Right now there is a big push for the elimination of plastic shopping bags. There are also those opposed to going back to paper bags. What could the solution be? Try encouraging the use of recyclable, reusable shopping bags for your customers. You make those opposed to one-time use bags happy and you save money on the need to regularly purchase more shopping bags (which can be a rather pricey supply on your monthly expense report). To implement this type of change you would want to have reusable bags ready for your customers and you might even give them away for the first few weeks you start the program. After that, you might give customers a small discount to customers who bring their own bags, say 1% on every transaction.

     Problems that may arise by allowing recycled bags into the store. The first concern is the potential for increased shoplifting. Inviting customers to bring their bags into the store to bag groceries is going to make shoplifting that much easier. Thieves already walk by unattended cash registers to pick up plastic shopping bags as they enter the store. They fill them up, look like any other customer who has made a purchase at an in-store terminal and they leave. Most customers are honest but I would remind readers that one of the necessary ingredients for shoplifting is opportunity. Without opportunity, some people who may be tempted to steal for a thrill are kept in check. You provide opportunity by permitting reusable bags and some will take advantage of it. You also have to think, are the bags only allowed at the checkout stand? How do you keep shoppers from filling them up as a convenience rather than using a shopping cart? How do you monitor the shoppers for those who may be stealing and those who are simply picking up merchandise for purchase? It can lead to problems for store owners.

     There is a way to allow the use of shopping bags and minimize the risk of increased shoplifting and that is the installation of an electronic article surveillance system (EAS). If you are going to resolve to help the environment you can still do it just by adding an EAS System in your store if you don’t already have one. You tag all of your merchandise with EAS tags or labels depending on what the merchandise is or how you strategize your theft prevention procedures. If a shopper has concealed merchandise in a bag they brought in and did not pay for it the alarm is going to be activated and your employees will respond to it.

     Since we are on the topic of being environmentally responsible it is important that retailers know that many EAS tags are built out of recyclable materials. Hard tags can be used multiple times to tag and re-tag merchandise thereby saving on the need for constantly purchasing new tags and since they are recyclable they help the environment. It should also be noted a lot of Sensormatic systems help to reduce power consumption. When the systems are not in use (during non-working store hours) they go into a power saver mode. Stores save money and wasted energy. The use of EAS loss prevention equipment saves stores money by preventing theft and it allows stores the ability to appeal to their environmentally focused customers thus driving sales.

     Another environment-friendly step you can make as a retailer is to look at recycling those cardboard boxes your merchandise is shipped in. A cardboard bale can bring in anywhere from $10 to $20 a ton. If this does not seem like a cost-effective move for your store you could try partnering with a neighboring store and combine efforts. It isn’t a lot of money but it does keep cardboard out of landfills and you can advertise that to your customers.

     Resolutions may not be easy to keep but once you start down the road of using merchandise protection and you see the money you save in shortage and how easy it is to implement you won’t find it difficult to stay on track. In 2019, resolve to make some changes that will help the environment and make your store more profitable at the same time.


Loss Prevention Systems For The New Year

For a loss prevention officer, the holiday season is a hard time to be jolly when the busiest shopping season of the year brings with it its shoplifters, crime, and theft.  During the holiday season, the number of incidents involving shoplifting increases considerably, and the losses the store suffers can be devastating to their bottom line.

For any retail store in the United States and across the globe, having a loss prevention system in place or a loss prevention officer in their store can be the difference between having profits or losses during their fiscal year. 

According to recent studies, more than half of retail stores in the United States have stopped investing in their loss prevention teams or systems even though their inventory shrink rate has seen an increase in the last year.  The inventory shrink rate takes into consideration the following:

  • Shoplifting
  • Employee theft
  • Vendor fraud
  • Administrative and paperwork errors

Shoplifting theft accounts for almost 40% of the total theft a store experiences, and even though the amount an employee steals can surpass that of the common shoplifter each instance it happens, the shoplifting theft can be considerable every year.

According to many pieces of research, retail stores lose approximately $35 million a day due to shoplifting or $48.9 billion in a year. Those detrimental statistics in the retail industry are worth considering when many stores and businesses decide whether to invest in a loss prevention system or a loss prevention team to combat the shoplifting in their store.

A loss prevention system expense can be recovered within a short period of time, and if your losses are increasing each year, the time you will recoup the money invested in the system shortens considerably. 

The introduction of a loss prevention system in the store allows your employees to dedicate more time with the customers entering your store, than attempting to catch the shoplifter. The system also allows your store to be protected and send a message to the shoplifters. Shoplifters know where and which stores to target.  If you are a store that doesn’t prosecute shoplifters or doesn’t have a loss prevention team or system, you are vulnerable and can become the target store for many of these shoplifters.


Hiring Well For The Holiday Season

For the retail industry and small businesses in general, the holiday season has started, and for them, this season can be a financial boost for their business.

The significant change in sales, profits, and employment take a front seat during the holiday season, and it can be a breaking or making point for many businesses across many industries.

By November, the retail industry has hired many part-time sales personnel to help with the holiday season, expecting those employees will be ready when black Friday sales start.   Many of those businesses will let go many of those employees, but some of them will stay with the business well after the season is over. 

The benefits associated with keeping those employees on payroll are many, but most importantly, it is the expense associated with hiring new employees every few months that make sense. Many businesses strive to hire quality employees and can see the benefit in training them and keeping them well after the holiday season is over.  The expense of hiring new employees regularly makes no financial sense for them considering the rise in costs associated with it.

According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the cost of hiring a new employee is $4,129.  Not only that,  but it also takes weeks for those employees to be ready to perform their job well, and if not trained properly, the cost of retraining puts a financial strain in the business and their profits.

When paying for a background check before hiring a new employee, or for proper training the first time around, the costs associated with acquiring quality employees can become minimal if done properly the first time around. 

Many businesses now a day hire new employees constantly, never training them well and getting rid of them before their first paycheck arrives.  That’s a very costly way of acquiring employees or retaining the ones they have, and acquiring good employees using this method is riddled with problems from the beginning.

A business needs to invest in properly hiring and training their new hires.  The financial benefits will follow for the business.


Combating Shoplifting In Your Business

One of the most prevalent crimes in the United States is shoplifting.  While many state governments and lawmakers have taken a strong approach to combat shoplifting, it is a battle that keeps the retail industry checking their loss prevention measures, and their ability to combat this crime.

According to the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention, (NASP) the retail industry loses approximately $35 million per day. Even when advances in technology have aided the loss prevention team in combating this crime, figures about shoplifting has shown an increase in the average inventory shrink rate to 1.44 percent. 

The average shrink rates take into consideration shoplifting, internal theft, vendor or merchant errors and administrative errors.  And although shoplifting accounts for more than a third of the losses, internal or employee theft is pretty close behind.  An employee that is using the cash register as their personal piggy bank, or an employee that steals merchandise worth hundreds of dollars in one incident can be as detrimental as the shoplifter entering the store and stealing merchandise from the shelves.

How can you prevent or combat shoplifting in your store?

Training – One of the best measures for the prevention of shoplifting is training the loss prevention team and management of the store to spot and react accordingly when witnessing a theft. If a theft is happening and a trained employee is a witness to the incident, merchandise can be salvaged and the shoplifter can be apprehended without having the incident escalate to violence.

Hiring – Background checks before hiring an employee can save you time and money.  An employee with a clean employment record can be hired and trained and become an asset to the business right away. According to the 2014 Industry Training Report, small companies with less than 1,000 employees spent an average of $1,238 per training per employee that year. If the new employee is not properly checked or interviewed, the company might lose money and labor that eventually translates into loses for the business and their ability to grow.

Customer Service – The research regarding this important area in the retail industry is unanimous in their findings.  Better customer service means less theft.  Not only that, but better customer service translates into more profits.  Happy customers can be an asset to any business.  Good PR can mean more sales, more customers and more profits.

Shoplifting System – Installing a shoplifting system in your store is part of a solution to the problem, not a whole solution by itself.  The system will discourage thieves and employees from taking merchandise out of the store without paying, and that is an advantage you cannot do without.

If you are interested in installing a shoplifting system, training your personnel, or using background checks to perfect hiring, call us.  We are a company dedicated to providing stores and other businesses the tools necessary to succeed.


We Installed A Sensormatic System. Our Shoplifting Problems Are Over, Right?

NO! not yet. Before we begin patting ourselves on the back you must remember that your Sensormatic System is only part of your shoplifting solution. Your Sensormatic System will protect your merchandise however, many shoplifters are determined and will try to steal anyway. The Sensormatic System itself is a deterrent. Its mere presence will dissuade many shoplifters.

There are TWO PARTS to the shoplifting solution. Loss Prevention Systems, Inc. (LPSI) did not invent them, we simply perfected them both. So in your case:

✓  Sensormatic System installed by Loss Prevention Systems.

 Staff training by Loss Prevention Systems. LPSI includes FREE anti-shoplifting training with every Sensormatic system you purchase from us, as often as you reasonably need it.

Let’s discuss the training to teach your staff how to deter shoplifters. First, we have to get our heads straight about your Sensormatic System. The system is there protecting your tagged merchandise 24/7. It is critical to have but you must realize that to fully stop shoplifters, the first line of defense must be customer service. Shoplifters hate customer service. They do not want you near them and need privacy to conceal your merchandise even if only for a moment.

We want to teach your staff to approach every customer and at a minimum greet them. Did you know that over half of all shoplifters are classified as “impulse” shoplifters? An impulse shoplifter is someone who has entered your store and will only shoplift if you give them the opportunity. Many studies over the years have shown that most impulse shoplifters will not shoplift in your store, during that visit if they are properly greeted! Wow, that means that if you or your staff greet them when they walk in the door with a verbal greeting such as “welcome to xxxx” and as important use good eye contact that it is likely that the impulse shoplifter will not steal from you during that visit! So you have put a serious dent in your shoplifting losses by just greeting customers.

Of course, greeting customers also helps us to achieve higher sales. It gives the legitimate customer a chance to ask a question and makes them feel more at home. Think about it, good customers love customer service, shoplifters hate it. Customer service everyone to death and increase your sales and reduce your shoplifting losses all with one technique.


 

Children shoplifting: how parents are using kids to steal for them and/or kids shoplifting on their own

I was once asked why I kept toys on my desk in my Loss Prevention office. I had two reasons, the first was they were collectible superhero figurines (The Tick to be precise) and the other was to keep children entertained. It is a sad fact in Retail Loss Prevention but there are children who shoplift, there are parents who shoplift and there are parents who use their children to help shoplift. As a Loss Prevention professional, it is not hard to handle an adult who steals. There may be anger, tears, and pleading but these are adults and they made a choice to steal so there should be consequences. What is not so easy to cope with is the child who has to sit in the office while the parent is being processed and does not understand what is taking place. There were many instances when I had to try to keep these young ones entertained as mom or dad were answering questions about the crime, providing personal information or trying to contact a family member or friend who would be willing to pick up the child. Add to the mix a parent who is throwing a conniption fit or making the scenario worse by bawling and wailing in front of the child begging you to let them go “Just this one time and it won’t ever happen again, I promise.” It becomes quite annoying. It also upsets the child who becomes a prop for the parent. The toys were my prop to entertain the children in a pinch.

     It may be hard to comprehend but aside from just shoplifting with their kids in tow, there are parents who use their children as tools or props to commit their crimes. What is worse than a parent who removes a price tag from a purse, straps it over their daughter’s shoulder and walks out with her and the purse? Well, it could be worse when the parent scolds the child and tells her she shouldn’t have done that when the parent is caught by Loss Prevention. Then there are the parents who walk through the store pushing a baby in an infant stroller with the little baby covered by a blanket. What can these doting mothers and fathers do with a cute little baby you may ask? It turns out baby strollers with blankets make great hiding places for designer blue jeans…MANY pairs of designer jeans. Aw gee, let’s not forget one of my all-time favorites, the pregnant mommy who gets more pregnant simply by walking through the store gathering clothing.

     If you aren’t shocked by now it could shake you up to know that some parents not only use their children as props or to disguise their own theft, some will steal while the children steal too. I caught two mothers and their combined five children ALL stealing in my store. The children wandered around areas of the store that interested them and the mothers did likewise. Everyone took their turn cleaning house. I once caught a father and his teenage son stealing jeans in a department store I worked in. It really gave perspective to the term, “Like father like son”… although I think the saying, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” also came to mind. The unfortunate reality is, those cute, cherubic faces and tiny tots may not be just little cutie pies accompanying their mom or dad in your store. It is not uncommon for these youngsters to be covers for theft or potentially cranky crooks themselves.

     So how should retailers handle situations like these to prevent shoplifting family frolics? The number one deterrent to all shoplifters is customer service for everyone. Adults, as well as children, should be acknowledged and assistance offered. Electronic Article Surveillance systems will discourage adults from stealing. And while the systems may help prevent teenaged terrors from 5-finger discounts they will probably not have the same effect on young kids. It is probably not a good idea to try to stop a shoplifter if you do not have trained Loss Prevention Personnel working for you. Bad stops and aggressive shoplifters can lead to costly and/or dangerous situations. Aggressive, non-stop customer service is in order if you have a strong suspicion someone is stealing. Most importantly don’t let yourself be duped by those cute-chubby cheeked darlings. Those families might not be as charming as they look.