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5 Ways to effectively prevent shoplifting

Britain’s shops suffer a loss of £800 million per year due to shoplifting, one of the most common crimes committed by opportunist thieves. It’s a crime that can be very profitable for offenders but significantly costly for shops.

Utilising data derived from data.police.co.uk, OnBuy.com investigated the total number of shoplifting offences that were recorded by 43 police forces/constabularies across England and Wales in the financial year of 2016-17. The research revealed that the Metropolitan Police had the highest number of shoplifting offences at an astounding 47,580 – the equivalent of 130 incidents a day.

This was closely followed by West Midlands Police, who had 19,741 incidences of shoplifting reported. In third place was Greater Manchester Police, with 18,002 shoplifting offenses. City of London Police had the lowest number of shoplifting cases, with only 729 reported – the equivalent of 2 occurrences every day. Meanwhile, Dyfed-Powys Police had more than double the figure of City of London, with 1,533 shoplifting offenses. Above Dyfed-Powys Police was Cumbria Constabulary, who had 2,819 incidences of shoplifting.

Based on these findings, OnBuy has published its top five tips to effectively prevent and reduce shoplifting:


Train employees to watch out for behaviours which shoplifters typically display such as paying more attention to their surroundings than the items, repeatedly picking up then putting down the same item(s) and ignoring any attempts to help or engage with them.

Have one employee always at the front of the shop greeting customers as they come in. This will be a clear indication to any potential shoplifter(s) that staff are aware of them and paying attention to their actions/behaviour.

Carefully identify items which are most likely to be stolen, either through previous experiences or because of their high value. Consequently, take the necessary precautions to make them a harder target for shoplifters through storing them in cabinets with locks or keeping them behind the counter.

Displaying an adequate number of signs throughout the store clearly stating, ‘shoplifters will be prosecuted’ will demonstrate your firm stance on the seriousness of the matter. Additionally, including signs which say the store is protected by security cameras (even if they can’t be visibly seen), will deter shoplifters by making them aware they are actively being monitored.

Where possible use low-level aisles so staff can see customers at all times. Identity blind spots and then use mirrors to provide a vantage point in these areas. The addition of bright lighting will also make shoplifters feel like the spotlight is always on them.


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