Train your employees to be courteous and alert. A thief who thinks that he or she is being watched is less likely to steal. Take steps to prevent shoplifting. It's easier and safer to prevent shoplifting than it is to deal with a shoplifter. Know the signs of shoplifting. Watch for someone who:
- Seems nervous.
- Avoids eye contact.
- Wanders around the store without buying anything.
- Leaves the store and returns to your business repeatedly in a short period of time.
- Stays in an area of your business where he or she is hard to see.
- Keeps watching you or is constantly looking around.
Use simple measures to discourage shoplifting. For example:
- Stay alert at all times.
- Be friendly and polite to all customers.
- Ask customers if they need help.
- Keep your business neat, clean and orderly.
- Know where shoplifting is most likely to occur in your business.
Know what to do if shoplifting occurs. Play it safe.
- Never accuse anyone of stealing.
- Never try to physically stop a shoplifter.
- Never lock the door to keep a shoplifter from leaving.
- Never chase a shoplifter out of your place of business.
- Remain at least an arm's length away from the shoplifter.
Give the person a chance to pay or put back the item. Be sure to know what was taken and where the customer hid it. Then politely ask the person a question, such as:
- Are you ready to pay?
- Would you like a bag for that item? (Name the item taken.)
Follow your instincts. Don't continue to confront a shoplifter if you start to feel frightened or uneasy. Get help when it's safe to do so. Call the police if you sense a threat of violence. Your personal safety is always more important. Use a log or some other method to share suspicions of shoplifting with your co-workers. When merchandise is displayed neatly in standard groups, three to four items per display, sales personnel can notice what is missing quickly. Place small expensive items in secure display cases close to sales personnel. A counter near an exit is an easy target for "grab and run" thieves. Display signs announcing that "shoplifters" will be prosecuted, and cooperate with the police and the prosecutor.
From time to time you may have to deal with problem customers. Being prepared for difficult situations will help you deal with them. Know what kinds of situations you may face. They include:
- Racial slurs
- Bad language
- Repeated questions
- Sexual advances
Violence may occur without warning. But it often occurs with harassment and intimidation. A person may turn to violence as a last resort. Some suggestions to help you avoid trouble:
- Be polite and friendly to all customers.
- Notice customers as they enter the store. Look for signs that customers are upset or under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Learn to recognize customers who are likely to cause trouble.
- Stay calm. Listen to each customer and respond in a calm voice.
- Try to steer the customer's anger away from you. For example, if the person is angry because you can't sell her or him a beer, explain that you are just obeying the law.
- Encourage customers who are angry or upset to call the business owner or manager.
- Don't react to a customer's anger with anger, or trade insults.
- Don't take a customer's complaints personally.
- Don't "talk down" to a customer.
- Don't try to physically stop or hold a customer.
What should you do if you feel in danger of being attacked? Trust your gut feeling. You can often tell if a person is dangerous. He or she may seem to:
- Get angry quickly.
- Be about to explode.
- Be looking for a fight.
Plan on how to escape. It is important that you be able to get away from a dangerous situation. Make sure to:
- Think about the escape routes in advance.
- Keep some distance between you and the person.
- Try to prevent the person from getting between you and the door.
- Get help as soon as possible. Call the police. If you need to, leave your place of business as soon as possible and go for help.