Solutions Increase Friction for Thieves

Retailers across the nation are feeling the strain and profit loss attributed to a rise in external theft hitting their stores. From flash mobs and pushouts, to smash-and-grabs and other forms of shoplifting, the problem continues to grow. According to the 2021 National Retail Federation Retail Security Survey, over 60 percent of respondents reported that organized retail crime (ORC) has increased over the past five years, with the number of apprehensions, prosecutions, and civil demands all experiencing a sizable decrease from 2019 to 2020 alone.

The consequences of the rise in theft in recent years are far-reaching for retailers, consumers, and communities at large. In many areas of the country, some retailers are choosing to close shop altogether rather than continue falling victim to incidents of theft and ORC. The loss of even one retail location, particularly in densely populated city centers, means inconvenience to the consumer, loss of jobs for the employees, reduced sales tax base for the city, and a blight on the community’s reputation.

Equally as impactful is the cost of theft on the retailer. The consultancy firm Strategic Resource Group surveyed a number of retailers across America who say shoplifting is now 2 percent to 3 percent of their total sales. That’s up from 0.7 to 1 percent prior to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

Solutions

When it comes down to it, thieves target stores that offer the least resistance and chance of getting caught, focusing on where they have the greatest possibility of a successful heist. Unsecured or unprotected entrances and exits send a clear message to would-be criminals and shoplifters that the location may be a prime market for theft. There are several solutions that can help retailers secure the front of their stores and help deter shoplifting and aggressive theft.

Security Gates

Security gate systems’ designs are customizable to adapt to any style of retail location, helping reduce theft by encouraging customer movement in predefined directions, preventing unwanted traffic paths from store to return counters, and reducing the risk of shopping cart walkouts with unpaid or stolen merchandise. All security gates are ADA‑compliant devices that are both manual and automated and are connected to fire alarm panels for automated control to avoid egress obstructions in case of emergencies. Security gates can also be integrated into video surveillance systems and with electronic article surveillance (EAS) solutions.

Electronic Article Surveillance

EAS systems have a long history of helping retailers curtail theft while maintaining an open-sell environment. This technology has evolved to include network capabilities, remote tuning, diagnostics, and expanded sensor portfolios—including detection devices, hard tags, specialty tags, and disposable labels—to cover a wide range of products. EAS systems can be integrated with video cameras so that when an incident occurs, EAS system alarms trigger the cameras to start recording the event for visual documentation. Additionally, just the presence of EAS tags and pedestals can act as a deterrent for opportunistic theft.

Video Surveillance

Video surveillance systems have been a staple for retail loss prevention professionals for decades. The technology has since advanced dramatically, now offering high‑resolution, digital solutions based on IP networks. The digital solutions available offer many benefits over the analog systems of prior decades. Intelligent, cloud-based video surveillance is simple to deploy and manage, and typically requires little to no specialized IT support, which is particularly helpful in retail environments without IT experts on-premises. Analytics software built into many newer cameras and other devices can detect and document areas of loss, helping retailers to understand better and pinpoint each source of loss to be addressed.

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