Addressing theft

Changing the layout of your shop, having a strong store policy and training your staff are some of the top tips provided by Leading Senior Constable Janelle Laing to stop shoplifting.


Leading Senior Constable Janelle Laing: Although shoplifting has been around since the beginning of time, it has become such a problem that it accounts for about 40% of incidents that happen within businesses annually. 

Shoplifters come from all walks of life, from all socioeconomic backgrounds. However, typically offenders can be put into 2 categories, whether that be an amateur shoplifter or a professional shoplifter. 

An amateur shoplifter can be described as someone who acts on impulse. Typically, we see juveniles under the age of 18 shoplifting to maybe impress mates under peer pressure. And typically, as well, they may work in groups. 

A professional thief is someone who works on their own and often goes out and targets places. So they may have seen the place prior to committing an offence. This is something that they're highly trained at and they're quite motivated by a lot of factors. 

You can prevent shoplifting by taking some measures in 3 separate areas. 

First of all is store design and layout. Secondly, looking at your store's policy and procedures. And lastly, looking to educate your staff and looking at making some awareness packages, as well. 

Store layout and design addresses the environment in which your business operates, so things like ensuring that your shelves are well stocked, and neat and tidy, looking at aisles within your store to ensure that there's clear sight lines, employing measures such as CCTV and mirrors in areas where staff can't typically see, if necessary, looking to employ security staff to patrol your store, as well, also limiting the number of exit and entry points so you're able to address how many customers are coming to and from your shop at any one time. 

Your business should look to employ a number of policies and entry policies, so for example, bag inspections. Persons aren't to enter a store unless they submit to a bag inspection, either entering or exiting. Also making it clear to customers that if you are caught shoplifting, then the police will be called. 

Ensure that your staff understand policies such as your bag checking procedures, what to do in the case that someone does commit an offence, so your policy around apprehending offenders and also making it clear to contact police if they do suspect any suspicious activities occurring. 

Local police can assist businesses in reducing or eliminating shoplifting by conducting business security assessments, and also training staff. A business security assessment is a series of checklists that can be undertaken to look at areas of vulnerability within your location. Contact your local New South Wales Police Force crime prevention officer, and they will be able to assist you in those areas.


Triple Zero (000) for emergencies or life threatening situations.

Police Assistance Line: 131 444 for non-emergencies.

Crime Stoppers: 1800 333 000 to provide crime information. You can remain anonymous. 

Last updated: Thursday, 11 December 2014