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How Do Supermarkets Protect Stolen Goods? (In Detail)

By Ferdi Vol
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You can see thousands of products displayed on the shelves ready to be sold to the customer in supermarkets. Apparently, these goods look unguarded, but supermarkets actually take extensive measures to protect the products. Now, you may wonder, “How Do Supermarkets Protect Stolen Goods?”

Supermarkets have trained employees who are always alert to prevent shoplifting. Besides that, the supermarkets hire security guards, update security systems and install CCTV cameras to protect items from getting stolen.     

In this article, I will discuss how supermarkets protect their products from shoplifters. I will also tell you how supermarkets know about stolen goods, and what the most common stolen products are. 

How Supermarkets Prevent Theft

Shoplifting is a common crime in every supermarket. No matter how big or small the stores are, crimes can happen. You may think that small thefts are not that harmful to supermarkets, but it is not true. Supermarkets get a very small profit from selling products from their store. Hence, thefts of any products mean a loss for the superstores.  

So, the supermarkets follow some strategies to prevent stealing from their stores. Here are some measures are taken by supermarkets against shoplifting: 

Trained Employees 

The reason why supermarkets do not face too much theft is the well-trained employees. The supermarkets train their employees to be careful and vigilant about shoplifting. They are trained to be watchful but not imposing on the customers. The employees cover the blind spots that CCTV cameras cannot cover. 

Employees are often stationed near products that are very common to get stolen. They are in charge of the sections, and so they have to be accounted for any theft. The managers of the stores always advise the employees to report suspicious activities.         

When the employees are recruited, they are briefed by the manager about the rules and ethics of the company. They are advised not to steal anything from the stores and prevent others from doing the same. 

Install CCTV Cameras

Sometimes, employees may be busy with other duties. Hence, they may not be able to observe every customer. The shoplifters then have the chance to steal items. Therefore, supermarkets install CCTV cameras in their stores to keep extra eyes on the store. The cameras are installed near the shelves to cover the maximum area.   

A security guard or employee is in charge of watching the CCTV cameras all the time during operational hours of the shop. This way, they can report people who are stealing or being suspicious. The CCTV footage is also used as evidence for proving the crime. Thus, the managers make sure the cameras are always working. 

And so, choosing the right CCTV camera for the stores becomes crucial. The cameras should have top-notch quality. Supermarkets place CCTV Cameras at the entrance, exit, near the aisles, and every cash counter. The cameras are mostly set up in places where they can cover most of the area. 

Besides, seeing the active cameras, the shoplifters may lack the courage to steal anything or get nervous while stealing. The security cameras make things easier for the employees and so they can focus on other duties.   

Hire Security Guards

You will see security guards standing at the entrance and exit of any supermarket. Sometimes they even patrol between the aisles to make sure no crimes are taking place. The security guards are responsible for checking suspicious customers coming and going out of the store.

When any mishaps happen, the security guards handle the thieves and hold them until the police arrive. Shoplifters often feel threatened seeing guards in uniform and resist stealing anything from the stores. The guards have the right to check any person they feel suspicious about. 

The guards make sure that the stores are locked properly after the business is closed. Supermarkets may hire undercover cops when they face theft frequently. They walk around the store like a customer and catch shoplifters when they are stealing.       

Update Alarm And Security System

Supermarkets maintain a strict security system and loud alarms to stop thieves from taking anything unpaid outside the stores. To keep the systems working, the supermarket managers have to keep the software updated and the devices checked every day. If the alarm does not work on time, the shoplifters can easily get out with anything. 

Then again, the sensors of the alarm systems may act up unnecessarily and create an embarrassing situation for customers. So, it is important to check the alarms before customers start coming and going to the stores. 

Offer Customer Service

Employees offer customer service not only to help customers to find products but also to let them know that they are nearby. It is also a tactic to approach potential shoplifters. Employees are instructed to offer help when they see people roaming around in the store for a long time without buying anything. 

However, they cannot be rude to the customers because the suspects may not have ill intentions. The employees politely approach the customers and offer their assistance. They recommend customers to use a cart or lorry to put their products. Hence, the environment remains friendly, and the employees indirectly warn the shoplifters.     

Observing Customer Behavior

Observing customers carefully is another way to prevent shoplifting. The employees are trained to look for some common signs of a potential shoplifter. They often wear long jackets or carry large bags to hide stolen goods. Their fists remain closed or tucked inside their clothes or bags.   

Customers may carry reusable bags of the supermarket in the store for buying new things. The bags might not be checked on the cash counter thinking that the customers already paid for the products. The shoplifters use this opportunity to take out unpaid items from the store. 

If the employee finds anyone suspicious, they subtly follow them. The shoplifters are insecure, and they observe the employees. So, if an employee sees some in constantly looking at them, they offer their help. Besides, the employees should warn the manager when they see someone lingering on a particular section for a long time.  

Double Checking The Labels Of Products 

Employees at the checkout counters have to be extra careful while checking out goods for customers. They scan the barcodes of the label, and the software makes the bill. There are reported incidents of shoplifters changing product labels. They change the labels of expensive products with the label of less expensive products.

The employees may not know what happened when they are scanning the codes during rush hours, and the thieves get away with the items. Hence, employees must have a thorough idea of goods in the shop and check the labels of every product carefully.

Now, it becomes a gold mine for shoplifters when supermarkets have self-checking tills. The possibility of swapping labels becomes easier. So, there is at least one employee near the self-checkout to make sure no one is misbehaving. They may also check the labels of the products bought by a suspicious customer.        

Putting Up Warning Signs

Many supermarkets put up warning signs on walls or near the shelves to warn criminals. The signs tell what the punishment is for stealing goods from the store. There are also signs about active CCTV cameras. 

Shoplifters will think twice about stealing anything from the store when they see these signs. This simple act has decreased the number of shoplifting in many stores and reduced the loss of the stores.

Using Tags with Sensors 

Supermarkets are really serious about their product safety. There are barcodes on the products to stop theft, but thieves often get away with it. This is why the supermarkets use tags with sensors attached to the products. It makes it harder for shoplifters to steal goods. 

When you get to the checkout, the cashier will take off the sensor from the goods and check out the items. So, thieves cannot take off the tags to check out anything. And if they try to steal anything without paying, the sensors of the exit will detect the sensors of the tag, and cause the alarm to go off.     

Checking Employees

It is not only outsiders who steal from the stores; the employees of the stores may steal from their employers as well. Some employees may find it easy to steal from the racks or storerooms as they know the place and how the security system works. They may come early or leave late so that they do not get caught for stealing. 

There are a few reasons behind this kind of behavior. The alleged employee may think that the stores will not face any loss for losing some items. But it is not accepted by the supermarket owners. 

When products get missing, the manager and the security guards of the store have the right to check every staff member before they leave the store. It is part of the regular checking of any superstores to prevent theft by store employees. 

Checking when employees come in for their shifts and when they leave the stores helps the supermarkets to keep an eye on the employees. So, the employees always have to report their presence to their supervisor. 

Theft done by employees is considered to be ethically wrong. No matter how cheap the things employees steal, it is bad news for the company. Hence, employers often check the backgrounds of employees before giving them jobs in the stores. They make sure the employees do not have any record of criminal activities.

How Do Supermarkets Know About Missing Items?

Unfortunately, it is not always possible to prevent theft or catch criminals red-handed. Sometimes, the thieves get away with their crimes, and the supermarkets realized later that they have been robbed. 

The supermarkets count their products monthly or quarterly. The employees match the number of products in the inventory with the number of products sold. So, when they see the sold product is 8 and 10 are missing from the inventory, they can say that the products have been stolen. 

Now, there is no quicker way to find out exactly when the products went missing. Hence, it is not easy to catch the culprits. However, many shoplifters come back to the stores pretending to return the products for a refund or exchange. They often choose a time when the employees are in a rush.

Thus, the employees are strictly instructed to not give any refund or exchange without a receipt. The employee can match the items brought by the customers with the missing item to check whether they are the stolen goods or not. 

A lot of small items are often stolen every day from the stores, no matter how careful the stores try to be. Most of these thefts are done by the employees, and shoplifters may not come back for refunds. Hence, a lot of items get lost. 

Items Commonly Stolen in Supermarkets

Supermarkets often try to stop theft by increasing the security of items that are most likely to get stolen. These items are often small, and they can be both cheap and expensive. However, you will be amazed to know what other items are stolen from the stores. 

Sometimes, the shoplifters eat food in the store and hide the packaging in the store. As a result, the employees cannot catch the shoplifter for their crime. Even employees do the same while they have the opportunity. Apart from packaged food and beverages, here are other items that are highly at risk of getting stolen:

  • Cheese
  • Meat
  • Chocolate
  • Gums
  • Seafood
  • Small cosmetic items
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Razor blades
  • Batteries
  • Perfumes
  • Coffee
  • Small Electrical devices and accessories

As you can see, most of these items are easy to slip into pockets and handbags. The items may seem cheap, but if you count all the items stolen every day and calculate how much the loss is, you will be shocked. Thus, the supermarkets try to be extra careful about these items and place security cameras around the shelves.  

What Is the Punishment of Shoplifting? 

Shoplifting may not seem to be a huge crime, but it depends on what someone steals. When someone gets caught, they may even go to prison if the supermarket complains to the police. But people who are caught stealing for the first time may not go to jail. 

On the other hand, people repeating the crimes have a higher chance of getting prison sentences for weeks or even months for the theft. If not jailed, then the accused will be fined for their crime. Moreover, the shoplifters will be banned from the stores. 

When employees steal something from the stores, they are fired immediately and asked to refund the items they have stolen. If the employee fails to pay the money, they may have to go to jail. However, the matters can be solved internally by talking with the manager and apologizing for the acts. But there is still a high chance of losing the job.  

By now, you must have your answer to, “How Do Supermarkets Protect Stolen Goods?” The supermarkets greatly depend on their employees for protecting all the goods.

The markets also provide necessary security measures to secure the shops from shoplifters. The supermarkets are very thoughtful about their goods since their business depends on them.  Thanks for reading till the end and have a wonderful day.

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The Grocery Store Academy is a blog about everything that has to do with grocery stores. This is your #1 spot to find the right information for your needs.
About the Author
Ferdi Vol has worked several years in a grocery store and has a passion for good food. He's happy to share his passion with you!
About Ferdi Vol
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