As a small business, when you're victimized by a shoplifter, you're losing money. While a single incident is unlikely to break your business, these losses can add up, especially if you aren't taking it seriously and are deemed an easy target. Consider these eight tips to help you stop shoplifting.

1. Invest in Cameras

Set up security cameras around your store. Place somewhere they are easy to spot by anyone paying attention. Thieves are less likely to steal if they know they're going to be on camera. That said, they may see cameras and look for a spot that appears to be hidden from view to conduct their misdeeds. It doesn't hurt to have some extra cameras that are more hidden, as well.

You don't need to spend a fortune on a high-tech security camera system. There are plenty of affordable options on the market, which you can integrate with apps so you can view what the camera sees from your smartphone, tablet, or computer, no matter where you are. 

2. Use Mirrors

In addition to cameras, place mirrors around the store. This can give you and your employees more angles to see people in the store, and it can make thieves more unsure about whether or not anybody can see them. Security mirrors are generally most effective when positioned in corners.

3. Display Signs Prominently

It's also a good idea to hang signs around the store mentioning security cameras and penalties for shoplifters. If a potential thief sees a sign that says they may be prosecuted, they may think twice before committing the crime. If they didn't see the cameras, this is also a reminder that they are indeed being watched.

4. Provide Extra Security for High-Value Items

Take extra precautions for higher-value items, especially if they are smaller and may be easy to hide. Jewelry, for example, should be locked in a case, but a similar strategy could work for any items you are particularly concerned about. You can also use security tags, small devices attached to merchandise that aid in reducing shoplifting. A common one is an RFID tag, which transmits a signal to a detector and triggers an alarm if somebody tries to leave your store with the item. The type of tag you choose would be based on what you sell, so do some research to find the best option for your business.

5. Train Employees

Make sure employees are trained on how to prevent shoplifting and what to do if it occurs. Most issues can be prevented by employees simply being aware of people in the store.

"If you have attentive and engaged staff, thieves will feel watched, making them less likely to steal from under your nose," says Meaghan Brophy at Fit Small Business.1 "Tell your staff to greet everyone upon entry, offer frequent fitting room check-ups, and be attentive to all your shoppers should any needs or questions arise. As a bonus, this level of engagement will discourage thieves and foster a positive customer experience for all your customers."

6. Keep Scheduling in Mind

Schedule employees with shoplifting in mind, as well. Make sure you have enough people on hand during busier periods so even if there is a lot of foot traffic, they are still able to pay attention to what’s going on in the store. This is good customer service, as well, because they will be available to assist shoppers or answer questions.

7. Optimize Layout

Lay out your store so that it's not easy for a thief to find a blind spot and hide a piece of merchandise. It can also help to keep the store neat and organized for the same reason.

"An unorganized store is an ideal playground for shoplifters," says Rhiân Davies at "When items are left in the wrong sections and inventory is not organized well, it’s difficult to identify when products have gone missing. Making sure products are constantly pulled forward on shelves, for example, makes it easier for staff to notice missing quantities of items, and makes it more difficult for thieves to inconspicuously swipe items from fully-stocked shelves. However, avoid overstocking display shelves or units with too many products, so you can clearly view how much stock is out at any one time."

8. Familiarize Yourself with Criminals’ Tactics

You can also help prevent shoplifting if you're able to think like a shoplifter. Familiarize yourself with common tactics so you know what to watch out for and what extra precautions can be taken. For example, shoplifting doesn't always occur by way of people concealing items and walking out of the store. Sometimes people will switch price tags on items so they end up paying a lower price at checkout. Some people try to initiate a phony return. Sometimes employees themselves are involved. Check out this resource from that explains common tactics used by shoplifters.

The more you understand the ins and outs of shoplifting and how to prevent it, the more money you can potentially save your business. Try these tips to keep yourself ahead of the game.




The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank. Nevada State Bank is a division of Zions Bancorporation, N.A. Member FDIC