Hayes International’s 24th Annual Retail Theft Survey is again reporting huge problems with retail theft within only a small sampling of participants. Furthermore, in addition to those shocking statistics reported by the Hayes survey, Fox Business News recently went on record with the following “Shoplifting, employee or supplier fraud and organized retail crime cost the U.S. retail industry $119 billion in 2011.” The Fox report estimated that in 2011, all segments of retail theft cost U.S. consumers $446 per family.
With Hayes’ survey reporting over one million shoplifter apprehensions and more than $113 million recovered from those apprehensions made within only a very small sampling of retail stores, one must ask is there any way to reasonably measure the true severity and magnitude of this crime? The hard fact is that no one knows the answer.
I have heard estimates ranging from one in every fifty shoplifters down to one in every ten of these thieves is caught. Again, no one knows the correct number! I like to think that in those stores having well-trained loss prevention and sales personnel, strong prosecution policies, state-of-the-art and effective anti-shoplifting devices, that the theft rate would not exceed one in ten. For those with few, if any, trained LP and sales personnel, and limited anti-theft measures, the theft rate would be extremely high. Put either or both of these two groups in a high-crime area, and those theft rates will dramatically increase.
Just keep in mind that many thieves work very hard in their profession. Below is an interesting story that took place in April of this year—that helps to show the magnitude of this crime.
Georgia: Two women and one man were observed shoplifting during the early evening hours in a department store. Police were called and the “stop” was made in the mall parking lot. In addition to those items stolen from the department store, police found approximately 100 return and gift card receipts from ten (10) nationally known retailers. Also in their car was several thousand dollars in shoplifted merchandise that had been stolen from local stores over a two-day period.
This caper gets even better! The ringleader was found with a ‘diary of sorts’ book in which she handwrote details of what was stolen on which days. The book allegedly showed who stole the item, its value and the amount of payment due each suspect for committing the theft. The book also detailed the profits from the successful returns and gift cards obtained over the past few days.
These alleged thieves looked just like regular shoppers, and as such, routinely avoided raising suspicion. Always remember, successful shoplifters don’t look like thieves, if they did, they wouldn’t be successful! Learn what shoplifter characteristics to look for. $