Shoplifting is one of the most common crimes committed by opportunist thieves. It can be very profitable for offenders and significantly costly for shops. Retail security firm Checkpoints Systems found that Britain’s shops collectively lose £800 million a year due to shoplifting.
Utilising data derived from data.police.co.uk, online shopping comparison site OnBuy.com investigated the total number of shoplifting offences that were recorded by 43 police forces/constabularies across England and Wales in the financial year of 2016-17 (April 2016 – March 2017). The police define shoplifting as “theft from shops or stalls”.
The research revealed that the Metropolitan Police had the highest number of shoplifting offences at an astounding 47,580 – the equivalent of 130 incidents a day – followed by West Midlands Police, who had 19,741 reported incidences. In third, was Greater Manchester Police, with 18,002.
City of London Police had the lowest number of shoplifting cases, with only 729 reported – the equivalent of two occurrences every day. Dyfed-Powys Police had more than double the figure of City of London, with 1,533 offences. Ahead of them was Cumbria Constabulary, with 2,819 incidences.
Cas Paton, MD of OnBuy.com, said: “The figures are certainly fascinating. Shoplifting is more prevalent than we would like to think. Considering the amount of time and energy shops put into running various aspects of their operation daily, shoplifting is really an unfortunate occurrence for them. Whilst it may feel unavoidable, shops can certainly take various steps to prevent shoplifters from targeting them. Simple steps such as better staff training to identify potential shoplifters and storing high value items more securely can go a long way when dealing with the problem of shoplifters”.
OnBuy’s top five tips to effectively prevent and reduce shoplifting:
Training Train employees to watch out for typical shoplifters’ behaviours like paying more attention to their surroundings than the goods, repeatedly picking up then putting down the same item(s) and ignoring any attempts to help or engage with them.
Awareness Have a ‘meet and greet’ employee at the front of the shop, giving a clear indication to any potential shoplifter that staff are aware of them and paying attention to their actions/behaviour.
Audit Carefully identify items that are most likely to be stolen, either through previous experiences or because of their high value. Make them a harder target for shoplifters, for example by storing them in cabinets with locks or keeping them behind the counter.
Signage Display an adequate number of signs throughout the store clearly stating that shoplifters will be prosecuted, to demonstrate your firm stance on the seriousness of the matter. Signs that say the store is protected by security cameras (even if they can’t be seen), will deter shoplifters.
Vantage Where possible, use low-level aisles so staff can see customers at all times. Use mirrors to highlight blind spots. Bright lighting will also make shoplifters feel like the spotlight is always on them.