Coming from a retail background in Loss Prevention I am accustomed to having to stop shoplifting by all types of people. I have caught everyone from the young to somewhat old (a few years ago I would have said elderly, but I am getting up in years myself and it seems those people are younger than I would have imagined back then!). I have caught those who are dressed in stereotypical shoplifter attire, unseasonable jackets, hats pulled low over the eyes, baggy clothing. I have caught people stealing while wearing business meeting attire. I have apprehended the people I imagined were going to resist and fight and turned out to be compliant. I have stopped people I thought would be compliant who became extremely combative. So when I can prevent a theft through aggressive customer service I feel no sympathy for the person. I also forget that my experiences have opened my eyes to the fact that anyone can be a shoplifter. This makes it all the more important to me that store owners are placing Sensormatic labels on even the smallest of merchandise when possible. I will tell you more about why I write on this subject in a moment but I want to digress and talk about tagging of small items.
There are some pieces of merchandise that are just too small to protect with any type of security tag and I understand that. Take for instance a pack of chewing gum it just doesn’t lend itself to any type of protection. On the other hand there are pieces of merchandise such as cosmetics that have been too difficult to tag in the past because they were just too thin. There are Sensormatic labels on the market now that can be placed on this type of product. The label I am talking about is the HBC Sheet Label. At only 6.0mm wide and 45.21 mm in length this little tag can provide a big result in theft reduction. Because of the small size of a cosmetic such as a lipstick, the merchandise was a favorite among shoplifters and cosmetics were always on my store and my company’s top shortage department list. They were easy for thieves to conceal and always risky for Loss Prevention personnel to try to make an apprehension on unless it was a significant amount of merchandise. Applying a security label to merchandise ensures an alarm pedestal will activate if a theft is attempted. Frankly, the label itself acts as a deterrent because criminals know it is going to set off that alarm and elicit a response from store employees.
Cosmetics are just one example of small items that can now be protected in your efforts to stop shoplifting. I had a situation just the other night when a suspicious woman with a large handbag entered our store, grabbed a handful of single markers from a display and carried them into the store. Unfortunately the merchandise was not tagged but could have been with the HBC Sheet Labels. I saw her with them in her hand and offered her assistance but her fidgety and nervous behavior told me she was looking for an easy theft. I called the manager on duty, alerted him and together we did not allow her an opportunity to conceal the markers or other merchandise she was looking at. Based on my experience this woman was looking for something to steal to try to trade or sell for narcotics. Eventually a cashier walked up and asked her if she needed assistance and the woman put the markers down and left. After she was gone the cashier started talking about how she felt sorry for the woman and wouldn’t have thought she would try to take anything. That was when I reflected on the difference in our perspectives and how it can affect our efforts to stop shoplifting. If an employee does not know what clues can indicate someone may be a thief or the tools a criminal will use that employee’s judgement can be clouded by emotion. Sympathy or concern may override judgement as to when a manager should be alerted to a suspicious person. It may also dissuade more focused customer service to deter theft. The use of security labels can mitigate some of the human emotion factor in deterrence efforts.
In Part 2 we will explore what to train employees to look for in order to identify shoplifters. We will also talk more about how Sensormatic labels can help create barriers to crooks so they won’t want to come to your store in the first place. Employees can feel sorry for the circumstances criminals find themselves in but they can’t allow emotions to interfere with theft prevention.
Sensormatic labels are important and we can help you with it. Call 1.866.914.2567 and let’s talk.