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Signs and preventative tips to reduce shop theft from the experts at bira insurance

Shop theft in Britain costs shops and small businesses over £300m a year* and as an insurance broker we are privy to many of the occurrences which cause shop owners real financial damage. As thieves get cleverer and more brazen shop owners are struggling to keep up and that’s why we’ve put together a guide to the common forms of shoplifting, the preventative measures and protections.

Hiding items out of sight

A thief will use an item such as a bag, pram or loose clothing to conceal an item. It is also common for a smaller item to be hidden (or swapped over) in the packaging of another item which is then legitimately paid for. Security tags can be an effective line of defence against this kind of crime but beware that metal lined bags can be used to circumnavigate an exit alarm system.

• Offenders will target and re-visit shops that have blind spots in them. Remove any opportunity by making sure there are no areas hidden from sight of the register, cameras, mirrors or the shop window.

Distracting the staff

Many thefts occur when a staff member will leave the shop floor or become distracted by a customer. Expect a request for something that is kept ‘out the back’, or a group of people to work together so one can distract the staff with a query while the other(s) perform the theft.

• A group of thieves or suspicious people will eventually become known in the area. By working with other local shops and the police, be sure to share information on anyone working or caught in your area.

Unlike many other retail insurance policies, bira insurance offers full theft cover without evidence of forcible or violent entry which is exclusive to bira members only.

Blatant theft

Walk out techniques involve simply picking up an item and casually leaving the shop. This works under the premise that, if not arousing suspicions, no alarm will be raised. Either this or grabbing and dashing out hoping to get a good enough head start on any attempt to chase.

• For smaller shops where security staff isn’t an option try using dummy displays, or empty boxes around the entrances. This means that thieves need to come further into the store discouraging this kind of attempt. It also helps you pen in areas of your store where shoplifters will be hiding items.
• This can be difficult to prove, especially if the thief has already brought an item – they can always claim they ‘accidentally’ forgot to pay. This is again where local information sharing will help you identify offenders.

Exclusive to bira members is the ‘Theft of stock in the open’ enhancement which covers for a blatant theft where someone can just walk by and take goods.

Above are some of the preventative measures to help deter theft but at bira insurance we understand that sometimes it’s just inevitable. Because of this bira members have exclusive enhancements available to them via bira insurance retail policy these include but are not limited to:

• Full theft cover without evidence of forcible or violent entry.
• Theft of stock in the open
• Money can also be covered as required up to £10,000

Staff theft
Staff stealing cash is easier to spot but stealing stock can be harder to pinpoint. And if they are working with another person who ‘looks the other way’ while they shoplift in your store this can again be difficult to prove.

• The best course of action is always to nurture long-term trusted staff. Most people would not be interested in jeopardising a job they love. It’s always a risk though and CCTV across your store, including above the register and around the isles will help you notice spot collusion.
• To best protect your cash be sure to take out cash cover. Bira business insurance provides up to £10,000 cover for theft of cash from your premises during business hours or in transit

Price swapping
This is common in larger shops where stickers are used for pricing. A thief will swap the price tags or bar codes over for a cheaper item, on to a more expensive one.
• Display cabinets for more expensive items will mean that customers cannot access them without your assistance.
• Price tags which are not easily removed, either by tying, or printing on can solve this.

t: 0330 123 5939

bira insurance is a trading name of Towergate Underwriting Group Limited who are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.