Did you know health and beauty care items top the list of shoplifted goods, according to a survey from the Food Marketing Institute? And it’s not just your retail shelves that present an enticing target to shoplifters. One salon owner we spoke to says her stock of open polishes used for salon services are “stolen like crazy.” Effective prevention begins with an aware and alert staff. The following tips provided by the San Diego Police Department will help deter shoplifters.

> Be aware that there is no typical shoplifter. Shoplifters may be any age, gender, or economic or ethnic background. They often work in pairs or groups to divert the clerk’s attention while they steal.

> Make the shoplifters feel watched. Elevate the cashier’s platform. Install mirrors that enable cashiers and salespeople to see over and around displays.

> Install surveillance cameras to cover cash registers, high-value merchandise displays, entrances, etc.

> Post signs warning against shoplifting. Emphasize that you will prosecute.

> Encourage checking parcels on entry.

> Minimize the shoplifter’s access to merchandise without inconveniencing customers.

> Keep display racks away from entrances and exits to discourage “hit-and-run” thieves.

> Keep small and expensive items out of reach or in locked display cases.

> Arrange merchandise neatly to make it easier to detect missing items.

> Take daily or weekly inventories of expensive items.

> Watch for people with loose or baggy clothing inappropriate for the weather, and people with large bags or other props, such as newspapers, strollers, briefcases, or umbrellas that can easily conceal merchandise.

> Be attentive to people in your area. This helps legitimate customers and deters shoplifters. A simple “Can I help you?” or “I’ll be with you in a moment” warns shoplifters they are being watched. Keep a close watch on people who seem nervous or refuse assistance.

> Be especially alert when the store is crowded. Shoplifters often operate when salespeople are busy helping legitimate customers.

> Watch customers’ eyes. If they are looking at you they may need assistance or are thinking about shoplifting.

> If you suspect that someone may be considering lifting something, approach the person and ask “Can I help you?” or “Can I ring that up for you?” If you are alone at the time, request the assistance of another worker. Plan a “buddy system” for your own safety and as a witness.

> If someone leaves your store without paying for an item, have an employee follow the suspect and get a good description of him or her and any vehicle used, and call 911 to report the crime. Do not have attempt to detain the suspect unless you have been trained in apprehension and arrest procedures.

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