*Comments open as of March 4th, 2014*
Despite what you may have heard, there is no perfect shoplifting method. You can be caught NO MATTER how you try to steal. A lot of it is the luck of the draw. Is LP in the store? Are they busy with another shoplifter? Are they watching you? There is no way you can be sure. You can be sure however, that you significantly increase your chances of getting yourself caught when:
10)You carry a flat purse or back-pack: Fairly obvious, right? Not only is this an attention grabber, but it also makes the LP Agent’s job much easier. Your bag was flat, and then magically became full right after all the merchandise you were carrying disappeared. Did the LP Agent watch you fill your bag? That does not really matter. The LP Agent did not need to see concealment (See my article: The 6 Steps of Loss Prevention) to confidently make a stop on you. It is fairly obvious. Most LP Agents will make that stop. On top of being obvious, entering a store with an empty bag can also bump your charge from petty theft to burglary.
9)You over-act: You pick up the item you plan on stealing. You begin tapping on it, wiggling it, playing with it, and looking around like everything is cool. Yes, people actually think this works. When you take this approach you are basically telling LP Agents “Hey, I am not going to steal this! Look, I’m playing with it out in the open. I wouldn’t be doing that if I were going to steal it.” Then you steal it. Happens all the time.
8)You under-act: You pick up the item you are going to steal and immediately palm the item, or hold it behind something. You then quickly walk off to the most deserted part of the store. The race is on. The LP Agent knows he needs to get a view of you, either on camera or on the floor to witness the concealment.
7)You are overly friendly: You come in and immediately start chatting with store employees. You’re such a nice person! You would never steal. This will work when trying to deceive regular workers but LP is not falling for it. I have even had employees try to stop me from making an apprehension because they thought I was going to make a bad stop on that “nice” person. When I see someone being overly friendly with cashiers, managers or anybody with a name tag, I immediately become suspicious. They could be a genuinely nice person but nice people steal too.
6)You fail the "scare test": When I suspect somebody is a shoplifter I will often give them the scare test. This means I will have several people walk past the area where my suspect is looking at items. A normal shopper will pay little to no attention to who is around them. A nervous shoplifter will turn their head at everyone that passes by. Often times they will look them up and down evaluating whether or not they seem like an undercover. When this happens it is a good indicator that I should set up on this person and wait for them to “go”.
5)You are bringing non-clothing items into the fitting room: Some people actually think that if they conceal merchandise in the fitting room that they can not be arrested by Loss Prevention Agents. This is because it eliminates the possibility of the LP Agent’s step # 3. This might work on some LP Agents, but certainly not the one’s that are good at what they do. If I see someone bringing something into the fitting room that is not supposed to be tried on such as DVDs, Jewelry, makeup, etc., they have my full attention until I see them exit the fitting room carrying that merchandise. Believe me, bringing stuff into the fitting room is a false sense of security and it will get you caught.
4)You are leaving an evidence trail: You select the item you want to steal. You are not sure if the item will make the door beep or not so you decide to remove the item from the package. Or maybe you want to pretend the item was already your’s so you rip the tags off. Now you can conceal the item. However, you also need to rid yourself of the package. So you discard it on the shelf, or you hide it behind something. You just made the LP Agents job 95% easier. Maybe they did not see you conceal the item, but they did see you toss something down or hide something. They find the package. Now LP knows what the item is, they know you removed it from the package (this is vandalism and is illegal), and they know you are up to no good. When you walk out of the store, all the LP Agent needs to do is approach you with the empty package and demand that you return the item. They will likely tell you that you are on video opening it (you may or may not be). They will tell you that if you do not return the item you will be charged with vandalism (this trick is likely against their LP policy but it is completely legal). Once you produce the item you are under arrest for theft. It is a lose-lose situation that you created by leaving a trail of packages and tags.
3)You have “shifty” eyes: Everyone knows that you are not supposed to blatantly look for cameras or look around for people when you are going to steal. However, it seems that the majority overcompensates. When you look up to the ceiling and then side to side without moving your head, you have “shifty eyes”. Shifty eyes get shoplifters caught every day. In fact, if I am about to give up on a perspective shoplifter and they shift their eyes, I will watch them until they leave the store, no exceptions.
2)You use two hands: As an LP Agent, nothing catches my eye more than somebody with both hands on the sales shelf. When an honest shopper looks at a product of interest on the sales shelf, they typically take the item in one hand and remove it from the shelf to look at it in the open. When a shoplifter puts both hands on a product and does not remove the object from the shelf it is a DEAD GIVE AWAY that they are opening something. I have caught shoplifters that I otherwise would not have even noticed simply because they used two hands!
1)You just plain look like a shoplifter: You know who you are! This is by far the most common reason people get caught. If you fit the stereotypical profile of someone who would likely shoplift you are likely being watched as an “easy stat”. So if you have 10 facial piercings, and a bright green mohawk, or if you’re just a shady looking character, don’t do it.
Contact: Questions and comments can be sent to me at ShoplifterPro@gmail.com
**Disclaimer** I am not an attorney. I have many years of Loss Prevention experience. Nothing on this website is to be interpreted as legal advice. The content of the website is purely informational. Neither I, nor does anybody involved with ShoplifterPro, condone shoplifting or any form of theft. If you commit theft you will eventually be caught, and prosecuted. Do not do it.
*Comments open as of March 4th, 2014*