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12 Strategies to Prevent Convenience Store Customer Theft

12 Strategies to Prevent Convenience Store Customer Theft

Employee training and technology may be your best secret weapons against c-store theft. 

Do you know the most common items that shoplifters are likely to steal from your c-store? They include razors, razor blades, energy drinks, cigarettes, over-the-counter medications, alcohol, cosmetics, and batteries. Are you doing all you can to prevent shoplifters from stealing these items and more from your convenience store? Check out the expert tips next to take the guesswork out of top strategies for preventing customer theft. 

Stop Potential Thieves from Striking with These 12 Convenience Store Theft Prevention Strategies: 

  1. Train your employees to greet all customers as they enter your c-store. Say “Hello, how are you?” or “Hello, welcome to our store,” or “Hello, is there anything I can help you find today?” By acknowledging customers, they will know you are aware they entered your store and that you will probably be watching them until they leave. Keep a close watch on people who seem nervous or refuse assistance. If shoppers look at you, they may need assistance, or they may be thinking about shoplifting.  
    Key: A simple “Can I help you?” or “I’ll be with you in a moment” warns shoplifters they are being watched.  
  1. Make potential shoplifters feel watched. Elevate your cashier’s platform so your cashier has a clear vision across your c-store. Install mirrors that enable cashiers and other employees to see over and around displays. Install one-way glass in any offices to enable employees to see into the store without being seen from the floor. 
  1. Install surveillance cameras with video-analytics software throughout your c-store. Make sure cameras cover cash registers, high-value merchandise displays, entrances, and loading docks. Install some of the cameras so they are at the same height as a customer’s face. Program the cameras to record video and alert you when suspicious activity occurs to follow a suspected shoplifter through the store. 
  1. Install public view monitors (PVMs) at main entrancesPVMs let shoppers know that they are under video surveillance in your c-store. Install smaller PVMs that can provide high-definition facial imagery in areas with merchandise that shoplifters want to steal. 
  1. Post signs warning against shoplifting and that you will prosecute. The best way to discourage shoplifters and keep them from targeting your c-store as an easy mark is to take a get-tough attitude and prosecute shoplifters on the first offense. 
  1. Install delayed-egress hardware on all emergency-exit doors. This hardware ensures there is a delay before someone can open the door, preventing shoplifters from exiting quickly with stolen merchandise. 
  1. Train your employees to request sales receipts for returned merchandise. Employees should swipe the shopper’s driver license or other photo ID so they can double check if the shopper repeatedly returns items. Too many returns might indicate fraud, so you should have a system in place to put a stop to repeat returns by the same shopper. 
  1. Employees should always watch out for shoppers wearing loose or baggy clothing, or wearing clothing that’s inappropriate for current weather. They should also keep an eye out for suspicious shoppers carrying large shopping bags or other props — like backpacks, handbags, tote bags, newspapers, strollers, diaper bags, briefcases, or umbrellas that they can easily use to conceal merchandise.  
    Don’t miss: Employees should also watch for shoppers who walk unnaturally or with short or exaggerated steps, which may mean that they are concealing stolen items. 
  1. Pick up stray receipts around your c-store. This action will deter thieves from using a discarded receipt to “return” stolen merchandise. 
  1. Be aware of shoplifters’ tactics to confuse and distract your employees.  
    Example: When shoplifters work in teams, one shoplifter will create a disturbance, like complaining loudly, pretending to faint, or knocking over merchandise, to draw attention away from other shoplifters who are stealing. It’s important to look around your c-store during a disturbance to determine if any shoppers are stealing. 
  1. Be attentive to all shoppers. When your employees pay attention to all shoppers and talk to them, they help legitimate customers to find items they need and also deter shoplifters because they will then know employees are watching them.  
    Hint: Be sure that employees watch shoppers in all areas, including possible blind spots within your c-store where shoplifters can hide.  
    Smart: If your employees need to leave the floor, ensure that someone else can cover for them to watch shoppers while employees are away. 
  1. Remain on high alert for shoplifters when your c-store is crowded. Shoplifters will often seize this opportunity to steal when they see team members busy helping legitimate customers. 

Go the Distance — Keep These 4 Bonus Tips Handy to Catch Shoplifters: 

  1. If an employee suspects that a shopper may not pay for merchandise he is carrying around your c-store, she should approach him and ask “Can I help you?” or “Can I ring that up for you?”  
  1. If your employee thinks that a shopper has stolen and concealed merchandise, he should keep the suspect in sight, and notify a manager or security personnel immediately. He should call 911 if the manager or security is not available. 
  1. If shoppers leave your c-store without paying for items, ask employees to try to remember the shoplifter’s physical description, and obtain a vehicle description, if possible, then call 911. 
    Experts warn: Do not ask employees to detain shoplifters unless those employees are part of your security team and are trained in apprehension and arrest procedures.  
    Smart idea: Contact your local police department for more information on laws governing shoplifting so you can correctly follow all legal procedures and keep your employees safe. 
  1. Install cameras outside of your c-store that point to the entrance/exit and to your parking lot to track suspects to and from their vehicles and obtain vehicle descriptions and license plate numbers. 

If you’re also looking for ways to discover and reduce employee theft, check out these 4 Secrets now! 

Smart idea: Petrosoft’s Loss Prevention Analytics software will track which employees are stealing from you and provide you with verifiable proof no one can deny. 

Source: City of San Diego, CA website

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