Maximising Retail Security: Why Is It Important In 2024

Written by Nyah Mallen

13th August 2020

For retailers, ensuring your storefront is properly secured can be a major challenge. With roughly £722 million spent on crime prevention, according to the British Retail Consortium’s Crime Survey 2023, it becomes clear that store owners are facing an increased need for effective security. With the addition of the cost of living crisis, incidents of customer theft are becoming shockingly common. In 2023 alone, there were a reported 8 million cases of customer theft. All-in-all, the total cost of crime turned out to be £1.04 billion, excluding prevention costs.

The figures suggest that retail outlets need more security. In order to combat these statistics, investing in maximising retail security is a must.

How To Prevent Retail Theft?

Multiple approaches can be taken to properly ensure the safety of your assets and employees. Even having basic policies and procedures can help reduce the risk of crime in retail spaces. However, one of the best prevention methods is hiring SIA-licenced security guards, among other methods:

Retail Security Guards

Security officers can help to take over most security operations within your retail outlet. They can be stationed in a surveillance room for CCTV monitoring – helping to detect suspicious individuals before any incidents can occur.

Retail security guards can also be placed among floor staff, helping them with their duties whilst acting as a visual deterrent to any potential thieves. Additionally, this means they are on hand to help de-escalate situations where needed.

Thorough Training

Untrained, staff may struggle to efficiently identify and prevent crime. They may also be unaware of how to safely handle situations where a crime is occurring. However, by providing floor staff with basic security training, they will be more informed about what to do if they notice suspicious behaviour.

Training employees in this way also helps them to protect themselves, by learning when not to get involved – as well as how to subtly discourage criminals from committing crimes in the first place.

maximising retail security by training staff

Proper Staffing

To reduce the likelihood of criminal activity affecting your business, ensure that you are always scheduling multiple employees to work at a time. It is incredibly common for thieves to choose understaffed outlets as their targets because there’s a lesser risk of being caught.

Therefore, having an appropriate number of staff on duty at one time can help to reduce the overall risk of being targeted – as well as promote employee safety in case an incident does occur.

Secure Access Points

Take note of all the possible entrances and exits to your store – including windows and back doors. Make sure they are appropriately secured where possible. Lock windows if they have latches, and ensure doors are closed properly when closing.

Additional security measures can be enforced by stationing staff or security personnel near doors to keep a better eye on who enters and exits. For out-of-hours security, consider investing in metal shutters to reduce the risk of break-ins.

Each of these methods brings you one step closer to maximising retail security.

Install Alarms

Installing alarms is another way to help protect your business. When alarms are triggered, you will receive a rapid response from your security team, or the appropriate authorities. Having intruder alarms in place may act as a deterrent to potential criminals – preventing them from trying to access your premises.

cctv to prevent retail theft

Invest In CCTV Cameras

CCTV is one of the most popular security systems available to retailers. It can be used to monitor key areas of your property with ease. Additionally, it allows you to look back at past incidents to confirm whether crimes have been committed, and possibly who was responsible.

Signage that states there are active CCTV cameras in the store can also often be enough to deter some criminals from carrying out plans.

Security Lighting

A more unusual, and less commonplace security measure that stores can use to protect themselves is security lighting. Criminals tend to act when it is dark, as it provides the perfect cover to perform their plans without drawing attention.

To reduce the risk of being affected, even when it’s dark, motion sensor lights can be installed at the perimeter of your property. This helps to brighten the area the moment someone walks by to trigger them.

Other Security Measures

In addition to the above strategies, there are a few smaller security measures that can be employed at no extra cost. They can help to ensure you are maximising retail security.

Arrange products so that frequently stolen items are visible to staff or security systems. Place them near checkouts or in dedicated sections with limited access.

To prevent refund fraud, ask customers to provide proof of purchase – such as receipts – when attempting to return items to prevent them from returning stolen products. Signage can be put up alerting customers to these policies, which reduces the chances of them even attempting these techniques in the first place.

How To Spot A Criminal?

It is crucial to be able to identify criminal behaviours, as this can help to prevent crime before it even has the chance of happening. Ensure that you, your colleagues and any outsourced personnel can recognise the key signs of illegal activity. Being able to understand and identify the signs of criminal activity is already part of a retail security officer’s duties.

Below are some of the key suspicious behaviours a criminal might display:

  • Aversion to eye contact.
  • Avoiding staff members or sticking to quieter parts of the store.
  • Overly alert or aware of staff members and other shoppers.
  • Entering and leaving the store repeatedly without buying anything.
  • Wearing bulky clothing or large bags, especially in warmer weather.
  • Spending large amounts of time in aisles with small, easy-to-conceal items.

Please keep in mind, however, that these behaviours are not exclusive to criminals.

retail security guard watching surveillance

What Are Common Shoplifting Techniques?

Understanding and being able to identify some of the more popular shoplifting methods that criminals rely on can help you alert authorities before they have the chance to act.

Drop and Run Technique

This strategy involves a thief placing a large bag at their feet – open. They will then carefully drop items into the bag, exiting once they’ve stolen what they want.

For this reason, it’s important to keep an eye on shoppers entering the store with bags – especially handbags and rucksacks.

Umbrella Technique

Keep an eye on shoppers carrying umbrellas with them, as it can be the perfect place to hide stolen goods. Criminals will commonly hang umbrellas from their arms or lean them against counters and shelves to discreetly drop items inside.

Distraction Technique

Unfortunately, it isn’t uncommon for shoplifters to work in groups, either. Quite commonly, a member of the group will work to distract nearby employees by faking illness or dropping items. Then, whilst staff are distracted, the rest of the group will begin stealing unattended items.

If any sort of incident occurs within the store, ensure that there is at least one member of staff working to keep the property secure.

a thief using shoplifting techniques

So, Why Is Maximising Retail Security Important?

In this article, we’ve covered some of the most effective methods for preventing retail theft and maximising retail security. Additionally, we have looked at signs to keep a keen eye out for when it comes to spotting criminals. And finally, we’ve discussed some of the most common shoplifting techniques.

Each topic covered in this article can help you to keep a better eye out for dangers and prevent crimes from occurring on your premises.

Furthermore, to stay up to date with the latest retail news, visit our news page where you can discover more on topics like Why Do People Shoplift? and What Is The Most Common Stolen Items From Supermarket Theft?

We also have a Region Security YouTube channel where you can stay in the loop regarding the latest security news, tips and tricks.

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