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Signs of shoplifting in your retail store

What does a shoplifter look like? Chances are they aren’t going to be wearing a mask and carrying a swag bag when they help themselves to your stock. Shoplifters are totally normal looking people and usually not suspicious at all. That’s why it’s so important to stay vigilant when it comes to protecting your retail business from theft and look out for the signs of shoplifting in your retail store.

Signs of shoplifting in your retail store

Empty packaging and hangers

Thieves tend to only take the item they want and leave behind bulky boxes, hangers and packaging.

Stocktake records

You might notice that the inventory records don’t match what you physically have in your store. Be sure to keep an eye on your cash registers if this is happening too as missing items also suggests missing money.

Rising costs in running your business

If your profit seems to drop with no explanation, this could also be a sign that you’re a victim of shoplifting because of the loss once expenses are covered.

Staff are concerned

If someone thinks shoplifting is going on in store, it’s always worth checking it out. Your staff see different things than you do and can be incredibly valuable when it comes to protecting your business. If you think staff are reluctant to share their concerns, try offering an incentive program.

Suspicious customers

While we’ve already stated that a shoplifter can look like any innocent shopper in your store, thieves will take precautions to avoid being caught. Examples of suspicious behaviour include customers who seem to be constantly looking out for staff or cameras, covering their face with scarves, sunglasses or hats, wearing loose clothing or carrying large bags.

What can you do to prevent shoplifting?

Now you know some signs to watch out for, what can you do to prevent thieves operating in your store and reduce loss to your business?

Clearly display the consequences

Make sure your store has plenty of signs stating your zero-tolerance policy for stealing and that you follow the policy at all times. If your sign says you’ll involve police, be sure to do so. Otherwise shoplifters may think they can get away with it.

Staff training

Make sure everyone who works in your store is aware what they need to look out for and invest in training if required. Approaching suspicious customers and asking if they need any help is often enough to make a shoplifter feel uncomfortable enough to abandon their plans.


Security cameras are there to see what you and your staff can’t. It’s usually not viable to have staff constantly roaming the aisles of your store on the lookout for potential thieves but the presence of cameras makes it harder for shoplifters to operate.

Hired security

Having professional security officers in your store allows other staff to focus on their job with peace of mind.


Mirrors are a great way to maximise what you can see if you’re a smaller business with limited staff as they allow views of the store from different angles.

Keep the most expensive items at the back

If it’s possible to arrange your shop floor so that the more expensive items are placed towards the back, this can be a good strategy to make it more difficult for thieves to steal this merchandise without being spotted.

Shopping baskets

February 1, 2019|News|

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