Employee theft is a genuine problem, costing retailers more than $37 billion annually in stolen product alone. According to the FBI, employee theft is the “fastest growing crime in America,” and the Department of Justice has estimated that one in every three employees is likely to steal. The bad news is, there’s no surefire way of preventing retail theft. But, the good news is a well-implemented retail security system can go a long way toward discouraging would-be thieves.
Perhaps the most important role that retail security plays in reducing theft is sending out a strong signal to potential thieves that you are taking the security of your business and your products seriously. Retail theft—especially employee theft—is often a crime of opportunity. Since employees spend all day in your business, they naturally learn the weak points in its security. From there, it can be a short jump to using those weak points to pocket product or cash. Implementing and using a retail security system shows employees and customers that you are keeping an eye on your products and your premises, which discourages “easy” theft.
Cameras and recorders are some of your best allies when it comes to preventing (or documenting) retail theft, but they only work if they’re being used properly. If you’re installing cameras, be sure that they cover all the important parts of your store, including stockrooms, exits, and employee-only areas. If your cameras have blind spots, then chances are your employees will know about them, and can use them to hide theft. Store layout can also contribute. If your store has built-in hiding places and discreet access to exits, that will just make it easier for employees and customers to steal. Ensure that all the spaces in your store are well lit and visible, and that exit points are clear of obstructions.
Regularly reviewing security recordings is also a good idea. Cameras are no good to you if you never see what’s on them. Reviewing security recordings also sends the message to your employees that you’re invested in their safety and the security of your store. For those who can’t be at the store all the time, or who have multiple store locations, Internet Protocol (IP) cameras can add convenience while still maintaining security.
In addition to cameras, access controls are an important element of retail security. Not only can they tell you who was in the store when theft occurred, in the event of an incident, but they can also help keep doors locked that might otherwise be left unlocked, whether by accident or design. This can include exterior service doors or doors to stock rooms and other employee areas.
While there’s no 100% guaranteed method of preventing retail theft, retail security systems can help your business protect facilities, personnel, and assets from internal as well as external losses.