Preventing Shoplifting... Part 3: External Security & Technology

  • Published on: 28 November 2017
  • By: Paula
Preventing Shoplifting... Part 3: External Security & Technology

Customer theft is the most common type of retail crime in the UK.  In 2016 it represented 75% of crime incidents and 66% of the direct cost of crime.  The British Retail Consortium’s Annual Retail Crime Survey reported these figures, along with £438m as the cost of customer theft to UK retailers in 2016.

And according to the Association of Convenience Stores, Crime Report 2017, the top areas for investment in crime and loss prevention are CCTV, external security and staff training.

We have already covered the benefits of staff training in the first of these blogs, and now it’s time to see how external security and technology can help in the fight against shoplifters.

Security guards
Security guards provide valuable support to your retail staff.  They are trained to know what to look out for and how to address a situation, and, unlike your other staff, they are not distracted by serving customers or re-stocking shelves.  Their purpose in the shop is to keep it secure.  Having visible security officers in the store and by the entrance also makes it clear to any potential shoplifter that you are serious about preventing theft and this alone is likely to deter an opportunistic thief.

There are many different types of security cameras available, so if you are thinking of installing them it is worth talking to an expert.  A professional security company will be able to advise you, and it might be worth combining CCTV with a security guard.  

There are many things to consider; how many cameras to have, where they will be placed, the angle of view they have and the lighting in the area.  How will the footage be viewed?  Will it be monitored continuously or just recorded and viewed if needed?  How long will you keep the footage and where will you store it?  

Take a look at one of our previous blogs for more information on installing CCTV.

Alarm tags/ Packaging
High value items often have EAS (Electronic Article Surveillance), usually RF (radio frequency) tags attached.  These will set off an alarm if an item is removed from the premises with the tag still attached and can help to significantly reduce losses through shoplifting, but only if someone (staff or security guard) responds when an alarm goes off.

Not high-tech, but still effective.  Signs warning that you…. use CCTV, have security guards on the premises, prosecute shoplifters etc.… will often dissuade potential shoplifters.  They might not seem much, but they do help.  And they are probably the least expensive tool you can use.

Place the signs near the entrance and in locations where shoplifters are likely to look.

Other technology
New technology is constantly being designed and developed, and although you might not need these it’s always good to know what other options are out there.  

Facial recognition software:  If you have lost a lot of valuable stock from theft, combining this with CCTV monitoring can help your security guards to identify known shoplifters and alert the Manager who can then keep an eye on them or ask them to leave.  Facial recognition software is becoming more and more common, although there are some concerns about how the data generated is used.  

Anti-push out technology:  This prevents a shopping trolley being pushed out of the shop before going through a check-out.  The wheels lock up and make it impossible to push, and an alarm can be attached to notify a store Manager or security guard.

RFID (radio frequency identification) tags: Operating in a similar manner to RF tags, in addition to an alarm these will also let you know if the item is from your store or another one.  RFID tags are more advanced and can identify the item they are attached to.  They are also much smaller, and can be embedded into a simple barcode label which is registered when the item is paid for.  Not only do they help prevent shoplifting, they also help with traceability through the supply chain and in tracking merchandise. 

If you missed any part of this preventing shoplifting series, take a look now:
Part 1: Staff & Local Community
Part 2: Store & Stock

Need some advice?
If you would like a professional review of your retail security, please get in touch.  Leisuresec has worked in many retail environments and we’d be happy to discuss how we can help you.