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Security Guards Trained to Spot the Different Types of Shoplifter


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Security guards loss prevention
Types of shoplifters
Security guards all know that shoplifters come in different types and it requires effective security loss prevention training to detect the types and use the most effective loss prevention strategy to reduce your thefts.

Generally there are four types of shoplifter that will affect your business the most and your security guards need to know how to identify them. Avoid using stereotypes and train your security guards to recognise patterns of criminal behaviour.

Initiation Theft
These shoplifters are generaly younger and subject to peer group pressure or being required to steal to become part of the group. This type of theft involves stealing a specific item indictated by the group and getting away with it as quick as possible. To verify this type of theft some members of the group will go into the store with them or hang around out front. The other group members get ‘thrills’ from being associated with the crime at no risk. If your security guard sees a group at the front of the store that are ‘out of place’ and appearing slightly agitated as their adrenalin pumps up you may have an initiation theft taking place.

Personal use theft
These types of shoplifters steal items that they or relatives can use. The crime is rationalised by the basis that the store makes enough money anyway and it is cheaper than them buying it. These shoplifters will take longer to steal items because they need to select certain sizes and functions that they want. Quite often these shoplifters will have other stolen items in their possession and security guards need to be aware of what stores in their area sell what items.

Resale Theft
Semi-professional thieves are a large risk for stores and to security guards because they will do a ‘run’ of stores in a shopping centre hitting as many as possible before security guards or staff detect the first thefts or respond to any alarms. They will often steal the latest arrivals because they are easiest to sell at high prices. These are the thieves that will strip a whole section of new articles usually using a ‘buffer bag’ and associates as distraction. Once they have hit a store they will go to another suburb to do the same thing and keep out of your stores for at least 4 weeks to let things cool down again so security guards forget about them.

Friends of the employee
In the larger retail stores that employ large numbers of younger staff to stack shelves and price items there is a rising type of theft that is costing employers more than most of the other shoplifters do. The employee has some friends that put pressure on the employee to put heavily reduced price tags on expensive items during the nightfill. In some examples I have seen they have marked Plasma TV screens down to $126 by changing the electronic price code.

The next morning the friends came in with shopping trolley and put in two plasma TV sets. Walking quickly to the checkout the TV's were scanned at the lower price. The operator didn't question the price and the offenders left the store with their cheap goods. This happened at this store everyday until I was requested to find out what was happening.

Store managers should do random price checks on any items of value after a price change to ensure that there are no mistakes.

Information supplied by Paul Baker

Extensive experience across Australia in security risk management of incidents in corporate security Qualifications in Security Risk management, investigations, and executive protection. Military service in explosives and information gathering operations across Australia in specialised unit

Instrumental in preventing or reducing crime statistics across a wide range of industries with practical experience learnt from the front lines of security over twenty years of service.

Level 6 388
Bourke Street
Melbourne Victoria
(03) 9642 0599


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