Shop Stealing: Guide for businesses

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Examples of easily stolen items

Over the festive season there is often an increase in shop stealing offences. Frequently stolen items include clothing, mobile phones, jewellery, electronic goods, cash and food.

There are some general signs that might alert staff to a potential shop lifter:

  • Wearing bulky, heavy clothing during warm weather or walking with short/unnatural steps.
  • They may seem nervous, randomly picking up items or takes several items into a dressing room leaving with one or no items.

Some tips to help prevent shop stealing:

  • Excellent customer service – greet customers as they enter the store, make everyone feel welcome and noticed;
  • Consider installing an entry detector alert to let staff know when customers are in store;
  • Implement a bag check policy and train your staff on store policy. Clearly display signs explaining your bag check policy;
  • Alert other staff members quickly if you notice suspicious activity;
  • Schedule an adequate number of employees to work at one time. Shop lifters may target stores during opening, closing or shift change over times;
  • If you are suspicious of a customer, be friendly, ask if they are finding everything okay, strike up a conversation mentioning you will be nearby if they need help;
  • Display signs police will be called if anyone is caught stealing.

Retailers are encouraged to conduct training sessions with their staff to ensure they understand store policy and procedures for bag checks and shop stealing.

It is also important to outline management’s expectation of them. From a management point of view it is important to remember the value of the goods can never outweigh the value, health and well-being of their employees.

Whilst it might be store policy to conduct bag inspections – you do not have a legal right to search a person's bag or property and there is no offence committed by refusing to have their bag searched.

The QPS has a useful page on shoplifting and stealing and explains how to identify, deal and report with shoplifters.

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