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Shoplifting crime is one of the biggest challenges for retailers.

Often, the public only get to see the crimes against retailers that make the headlines but it is sometimes the crimes against local shops that are most burdensome.

Shoplifting alone costs the convenience sector millions of pounds each year, and in fact, as many cases are not reported, there’s no real way of knowing the exact amount.

Sometimes retailers and staff become accustomed to persistent crime and what many class as ‘low level’ instances of crime. It's often dismissed as ‘one of those things’. But there are ways in which retailers can protect their premises against such crimes.

Preventing Shoplifting

There are two kinds of shoplifting thefts: petty theft - small scale thefts that involve one or more people on smaller items and organised theft: pre-planned theft by a group of people or families (sometimes children are involved).

Ways in which retailers can take steps to reduce shoplifting occurrences include:

  • Try not to place tempting goods at the main entrance to the shop
  • Staff should note and report anything unusual to management and the police eg people loitering outside
  • Be aware of large groups of people entering the shop together and then spreading out around to different areas - this may be an attempt to distract staff
  • Be suspicious of people wearing clothing which appears unsuitable for weather conditions. For example a heavy coat in warm weather. These may have internal pockets for secreting items inside
  • Make sure your view of the main entrance of the store is not obstructed
  • Welcome customers to show that you have seen them
  • Put a height marker near the door to help with descriptions
  • Build good relationships with your local police and understand how to prepare evidence for them.

Retailers can also install good CCTV coverage, making sure the views are not obstructed by products, or if CCTV is not available, ensure the layout allows staff to see customers in the store.

Derbyshire Shopwatch Scheme

Retailers are invited to join the Derbyshire Shopwatch Scheme.

Shopwatch Online is successfully used right across the UK by Shopwatch scheme members, police, councils & partners. It is a widely used, widely supported, tried & proven database solution in the fight against retail premises crime & anti-social behaviour.

Crime Prevention

The Crime Report 2014 by the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) (available on the right-hand-side of this page) has detailed account of the costs of crime, both human and monetary, including shop theft, burglary, robbery and violence.

It also features comprehensive guidance on how you can prevent criminal activity from happening in your store.

The following links may also be useful:


Do you need a quick answer to a general question? Then we recommend you visit the national Ask The Police web site.