Do you think you can identify a shoplifter?

by Kyle Hall on August 10, 2022

It would be good to imagine that the shoplifters responsible for a large portion of this shrink would be simple to identify as American retailers prepare to bear the cost of a staggering $50 billion in inventory loss this year.

They're not, which is a sad fact. Shoplifters are much more prevalent than you may believe, according to significant study by the National Association of Shoplifting Prevention (NASP). They come from all walks of life, all ages, and demographics.

Here is some information on the "typical" shoplifter and how to stop them.

A typical shoplifter?

There is no such thing as an average shoplifter, if research is to be believed. According to the NASP, one in eleven Americans steal, women are just as likely as men to commit theft, children and teenagers commit theft 25% of the time, and all kinds of establishments are frequent targets.

Around 73% of the time, the perpetrator simply takes advantage of an opportunity when it arises without even intending to steal. While shopping, a lot of shoplifters simultaneously buy and steal.

Types of shoplifters

While it is impossible to assess a shoplifter based just on looks, research indicates a number of factors, with shoplifters falling into six primary categories:

The opportunist - An inexperienced shoplifter, the opportunist will probably take anything just because they can, choosing to target things that aren't properly guarded or watched. This shoplifter could even be a regular customer who believes they deserve a discount because of their steady stream of loyal customers.

The underprivileged - Although the underprivileged shoplifter steals out of necessity, they may still be difficult to catch.

The addict - This shoplifter steals to support a habit by either reselling the stolen goods or making an effort to return them for a cash refund.

The thrill seeker - someone who steals on a whim and in a group, usually after being dared to do so. Teenagers frequently fit this description.

The kleptomaniac - a sort of shoplifter that steals out of compulsion and typically targets low-value things.

The absent-minded - This type of mistaken shoplifter includes the elderly and parents preoccupied with their small children.

Commonly targeted items

The most recent Global Retail Theft Barometer indicated that some things were more likely to be taken than others, despite the fact that the majority of stealing is not intentional.

Products that are frequently targeted have two things in common: they are tiny and simple to hide, and/or they have a high value at resale.

Shoes, mobile device accessories, wines and spirits, and perfumes are some of the goods that are most frequently targeted in the US.

Unusual conduct

Loss prevention company Vitag observes that rather than depending on profiling, finding a shoplifter typically boils down to recognising suspicious behaviour and body language, regardless of whether they are stealing out of need, as a vocation, or for the thrill.

Key indications of a shoplifter include:

-Observing the cashier or salesman more than doing the actual shopping.

-Wearing overly-heavy, cumbersome apparel in the summer or unneeded jackets.

-Short or strangely spaced steps when walking might be a sign that someone is hiding stolen property.

-Bringing many things into a dressing room and leaving with only one or none of them.

-The customer's eyes are not on what they are doing with their hands; instead, they are scanning the area for employees! So caution if the eyes and the movement don't match.

-Showing nervousness and picking up random objects without any thought.

-Many shop visits without ever completing a purchase.

Best prevention strategies

The best loss prevention uses a variety of tactics and a thorough approach to product security.

It contains:

-Training employees on how shoplifters behave and what suspicious behaviours to look out for.

-Labels for inexpensive things and security tags with stronger magnetic fields, such as super lock, hyper lock, and multi-polar tags, for more valuable goods are used in electronic article surveillance systems to keep track of stock.

-To determine whether things are stolen and what stock is most vulnerable, periodic stocktakes and RFID inventory tracking are performed.

-Good shop layout that eliminates hidden spaces and places high-value merchandise and often stolen products in crew view.

-Excellent client care.

-CCTV surveillance.

-Lockable screens, tethered cables, and cabinet locks.

Last thoughts

Retailers might not be able to spot a prospective shoplifter, but they can safeguard their business to reduce risk and expense with the correct loss prevention techniques, training, and education.

Furthermore, since retail loss costs $50 billion, prevention is always preferable to treatment.

Further Questions

To learn more about which security tags are a good fit to upgrade at your retail store, INEO’s expert online support staff are able to assist you with the decision. Please reach out to Amit Pannu, at APannu@ineosolutionsinc.com. 

Additional Resources


- https://www.securitytags.com/

- https://securitytagswholesale.com/