Retail businesses are favorite targets for criminal activity. You have stuff; criminals want stuff. Therein lies the problem. Every retailer needs to be aware that losses due to shoplifting and internal theft are a very real threat, but you don’t need to throw in the towel. With a little preparation, you can create a comprehensive retail security plan that will minimize losses. With the tools provided in this guide, you’ll be able to put a security plan in action that will help you:
- Reduce shoplifting.
- Protect your building from break-ins.
- Protect yourself and your employees from violence.
- Save some money!
Get an assessmentA good plan starts with a security/risk assessment. You can take the low-cost route and do this yourself or hire a professional.
this simple checklist (in a PDF format) as a tool for doing just that. If your business is a convenience store type of design, the state of North Carolina has some security tips that should be part of your plan, too.
Secure your premisesDefying shrinkage (theft from retailers) means starting with a secure building. Not only should you have good quality locks, but you should have a monitored alarm system. Don’t forget to have the installer add panic buttons, a.k.a. hold-up alarms. Mounted under a counter at the cashier station, they give an instant alarm signal to police for situations such as in-progress robberies or other serious crimes.
Add video surveillanceSurveillance cameras, also called CCTV for closed circuit television, is a popular addition to retail security. It’s great for internal investigation purposes (did the cashier really pocket the $100 bill?) and as a visual deterrent to dishonest employees, shoplifters or armed robbers.
Research your employeesPart of any security plan should be how you’re going to prevent, reduce or deal with internal threats. And in the retail environment, a leading cause of loss is employee theft. In fact, as retail security analyst Mark Doyle noted in 2006, “On a per case average, dishonest employees steal approximately 5.7 times the amount stolen by shoplifters.”
Be able to see your storeBesides surveillance cameras, you can make sure you can see your store by looking at proper lighting (especially for parking lots and areas employees might be at night) and by considering reflective mirrors to aid viewing in the stores.
Secure Your SalesCash needs to go in a cash register. Consider having one of your video cameras aimed at your registers to discourage employee theft and armed robberies. Look at reporting this data into a point-of-sale (POS) solution.
Hire a GuardIf you’re a high-risk retailer dealing in high-value, easily stolen items (jewelry stores are great examples) , then it’s worth your time to consider hiring a security guard. Unless you just want them patrolling the area and filing reports, you’ll probably want them trained and OKed to carry a firearm.
- In most towns, even big cities, it’s possible to create relationships with your local law enforcement personnel. At the very least, you should create a short list of the who’s who in policing your area, from the local patrol officers you meet to their superiors and even the chief himself if it’s a small enough town. This gives you an advantage of knowing who to contact if you’re suspecting criminal issues, and the law enforcement community may be able to share information to you about threats plaguing the area.
- Because your core job is more likely “making money” rather than “writing security plans,” create a timeline for completing your security plan. Focus on the things that pose the greatest risk first, then tackle things that are less likely to occur and less costly.
- Control who has access to your written security plan. Don’t make it a “public document”, but make sure it’s accessible to those who need it – 24/7. Ensure that the relevant people in your business can access the parts of the document they need. Maybe this means that managers can see the portions on how to respond to a shoplifting incident, but only the business owner can access the portion on investigating an allegedly corrupt employee.
- Some security analysts even suggest that you keep the racks between aisles low enough that you can see over them, though many business owners feel that kind of design is not usually practical due to the need to maximize available space to showcase your goods.