Dealing with shoplifters
by Sergeant Yvette Tarrier
In previous blog articles we have looked at measures to improve business security and now let’s have a look at how to deal with shoplifters.
Shoplifters usually fall into two groups: amateurs or professionals.
Amateur shoplifters generally steal on impulse or to impress friends. This is particularly in the case for juveniles and may occur because of social or situational settings.
Professional shoplifters are more likely to work in pairs or groups but can also work alone. They will often have attended the store previously to determine how secure the store is and how vigilant employees are. It is not unusual that they will be involved in some sort of refund scam – returning to the store claiming the item is an unwanted gift or wrong size.
Some physical indicators of possible shoplifters may include:
• Quickly refusing assistance and/or avoiding staff
• Not handling or looking at merchandise they pick up but instead looking around the store
• Bulky or out of place clothing – wearing baggy jumpers in the middle of summer or carrying them over their arms (easy to conceal items)
If you suspect that shoplifting has occurred in the store:
• Observe the actions of the shoplifter closely
• Make notes regarding their physical appearance
• Be sure that an offence has been committed
• Allow the shoplifter to walk out of the store (negates any defense that they were going to pay for the item)
Apprehension of a shoplifter must be carried out with great care. It is recommended good practice to have that person assist voluntarily.
If the suspected shoplifter agrees to remain with you:
• Explain who you are (e.g. the manager, store security guard) and show identification
• Tell the person why they are being spoken to and ask them to accompany you back into the store
• It is recommended that you do not physically touch the suspected shoplifter
• Advise the person that the police will be called
• Ask the person to surrender any property which does not rightfully belong to them
• You do not have a legal right to search a person’s bag or property – you may ask them to present their bag for inspection but it is not an offence if they refuse to do so.
Contact the police either through Triple Zero (000) or Policelink on 131 444.
Always remember, if there is any danger to you, your staff or customers, do not approach the shoplifter. The value of goods never exceeds the value of someone’s safety.