5 Ways to Stop Theft Before It Happens

by : 

Jacki Smith

January 1, 2011

Have you ever looked at your store through the eyes of a thief? To the shoplifter, your beautiful displays and ample products are like a delicious bunch of grapes, ripe and ready for snatching. During hours, after hours, when you’re looking, and when you aren’t—all are opportunities for loss.

Even a small theft can make the critical difference to an independent store. Every day, $35 million in product is shoplifted. If you lose even 1% of your sales to shoplifters, it can cost you up to 15% of your profit margin. Make your store and your staff safer and more secure with the following recommendations.

#1: Shine a light

Keep some lights on at night inside your store after you close, making it easier for an officer (or any motorist) driving by to see if something is not right. A dark store is a thief’s best friend—no one can see from the street as they break open your cash register and cart off your inventory through the back door. Many insurance policies actually require that you keep one light on at all times for safety reasons.

#2: Raise the alarm

Alarm systems are crucial, not just for a break-in, but for panic, robbery, and even fire situations. A good alarm system that’s visible from your front door or window, with flashing lights announcing it is armed, is one of the best deterrents to a break-in. Make sure your keypad is easily accessible by your staff, who should also know the panic code number and the verbal codes for false alarms and hostage situations to tell the alarm company when they call.

#3: Mix it up

Vary your routine when you can. If you always take the deposit to the bank at night, take it in the morning every once in a while. Predictable behavior is another tool a thief will use to make their job easier.

#4: Use your intuition

If you don’t feel right about a customer, ask them to leave. Don’t give suspicious customers change without a purchase (it shows them how much you have in the register and opens the door for counterfeit bills), and don’t let them use the restroom or the phone. Pay attention to whether customers are “casing the joint” or shopping. Asking a customer to leave can be very uncomfortable, and you certainly don’t want to be rude, so rehearse with your staff different ways to politely ensure their safety.

#5: Show them the money

Keep your cash register where it can be seen from the street. This way, if you have an emergency, passersby can see you by your cash register and in need of assistance. In addition, put your cash in a safe at the end of the day, and leave the cash drawer open slightly with a bit of seed money. If it is closed, thieves will break your cash register open looking for the cash. If there is no money in there, they will start looking deeper for the stash. Better to lose that $100 in the drawer than the $1,000 in the safe or the $3,000 cash register.

Jacki Smith is the founder and enchantress of Coventry Creations (www.coventrycreations.com). Her magical candles have been changing lives for almost 20 years. Jacki’s continual study of the retail market helps her help her customers stay in business. Her favorite saying to her customers is, “Your success is my success,” and she lives it every day.