To employees: Be aware

Suspicious behaviour is an important sign that something may be going on: But what is suspicious behaviour, and how can you be aware of such behaviour?

Prevent shoplifting

The most effective means to prevent shoplifting isn’t technology, it’s YOUR effort and alertness.

Suspicious behaviour is an important sign that something may be going on: But what is suspicious behaviour, and how can you be aware of such behaviour?

Suspicious behaviour

Sometimes it can be more obvious than others, and sometimes it might just be a gut feeling. Typical signs can be that the person:

  • Seems nervous
  • Returns to the shop without buying anything or to a specific area of the shop
  • Carries a big bag
  • Looks around a lot

Confidence tricks

Confidence tricks often involve several people, in which some of them try to distract the staff, while others steal goods. They often come into the shop one-by-one and walk around the shop for some time looking:

  • At the products
  • For cameras
  • For places to hide
  • For the best place in the shop to collect products together and put them into bags etc.

However, it can also be a person who asks you to show them so many products that you lose track of them, or who in some other way tries to confuse you or divert your attention.

Talk to each other about what you understand as suspicious behaviour, and about your typical customers. This will help you become better at spotting the customers/thieves you should keep an eye on. However, some thieves are so professional that they can steal openly without getting caught and without behaving suspiciously.

How to help prevent shoplifting

Securing products

  • Always lock doors to display cabinets/showcases, backdoors, doors to back premises and cloakrooms, etc. – even if you’re nearby.
  • Make sure to tag products and place the most popular products close to where you spend the most time, where you have the best view of the shop, and away from entry and exit doors.
  • Keep track of how many products you show customers, especially if they are not tagged. Perhaps agree on how many products you can show at a time, and always stick to this agreement. Never desert products you’re showing to customers. Perhaps ask a colleague to get other products that the customer wants to see, or take the product with you.

Tidiness and alertness

  • Keep the shop tidy. This provides a better overview, so you can keep an eye on what’s going on.
  • Pay attention to what’s going on in the shop, especially areas away from the cash register, areas with popular products, fitting rooms, behind tall furniture and similar.

Approaching a suspected thief

  • Make sure to stay close to the suspected thief, or signal that you’re aware of him or her. In some situations, you can make a potential thief give up by just watching him or her.
  • If a customer seems suspicious, approach the customer immediately to make him or her feel seen and observed. For example, say: “Can I help you?” or “Let me know if you need help” or “Are you looking for something specific?” You can also offer the customer a shopping basket or to look after their purchases. For example, you can say: “You’re welcome to use one of our baskets” or “Do you want me to hold that while you’re browsing?”
  • Stay close to the suspicious customer and approach him or her several times, if possible. For example, say: “Do you need help now?”
  • If you can’t stay close to the suspicious thief/customer, keep following him or her with your eyes – especially keep an eye on the thief’s/customer’s hands.

Help each other

You can also help each other be alert to a suspicious customer or confidence tricksters. Point out the person to the others. For example, agree on a code word for what’s going on and where in the shop.

Last revised at 17. August 2023