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Readers Respond: How to Handle Shoplifters

Responses: 12


In 2006 Wal-Mart decided to no longer prosecute first time thieves unless they are between 18 and 65 and steal merchandise worth at least $25. Does your store prosecute? Does it depend on the value of the stolen products? What do you do with children caught shoplifting? Share with us your shoplifting policy and how your retail store handles shoplifters.

my stores

I spent five years as a store detective for Macys. Their policy when I left was decide whether to prosecute on a case by case basis....usually first timers under $50 were given a criminal trespass warning and released if they were cooperative. If they've been caught before by any Macys, or had over $50 in merchandise, or resisted apprehension (this was back when we could use force), then it was usually prosecuted.
—Guest RoseH


I am an LPO in Canada and my best advise is to use props (shopping bag with a non retail item in it, or a cart full of merch) In affect the shoplifter is more at ease with a fellow shopper at the concealment stage!
—Guest LPO

Quick Tip

When you are outside and about to arrest the subject if he becomes combative just inform him that you need to get some information from him then he can go. This works most of the time to de-esculate the situation. Then once inside call the police. I have a policy that if you fight or if you lie to me then it's straight to jail you go. Anyone who shows signs of aggesion or who has drugs or a weapon on ther person go straight to the police as well.
—Guest LPO Vancouver (bc)

Eye To Eye Contact

As an LPO (Loss Prevention Officer) in a huge supermarket, my duties are to apprehend and deter shoplifters. Though not successful in arresting yet, I make sure potential lifters know that I am around. I do that by making a quick eye to eye contact and a glance to what they are holding in their hands. This will warn them that they are being watched and to think twice. The most frustrating is when they consume our food/drink and I cannot see them taking it. The six steps I follow before making arrest are watch them approach item, take item, conceal item, follow them uninterrupted, ensure they step out of the shop and then stop them.
—Guest Shac of Singapore

Daughter fired for turning in shoplifter

My daughter was fired as a manger today for turning in a shoplifter to mall security! It is the store policy not to call mall security or you will get fired! You also are responsible for the shrinkage in your store! So please tell me what you do then! Corprate America wake up and stop letting criminals mess with your bottom line! This is the dumbest thing I have ever heard of and also just wrong to hold good staff accountable for a criminals behavior!
—Guest Angry Mom


I work for a large company that uses LP a lot. One of the best things that we have is a database for all shoplifters the company catches, nationwide. We even put shoplift w/o arrests in there with the suspects name if we know it. There are people that i have caught that were caught years ago. We also trespass them-Good Idea! If they do not have valid ID, Call PD! We fine every shoplifter civily as well. If we dont call PD and they dont pay, we press charges, if we do call PD and they dont pay our civil, we take them to small claims court. We arrest on trespasses, credit fraud, check fraud, after we confirm fraud.
—Guest LP Big Retail


Aggressive prosecution of all offenders. The word gets out in the criminal community.
—Guest Curtis Woods

Director Of Loss Prevention, N/A

Its sad seeing so many people steal. When I was a boy, I was caught stealing from my employer and was fired but not arrested. The embarassment caused me to re-evaluate my life, returned to another employer and volunteered to catch thieves since the best way to catch a thief is with a thief. That was about 8 years ago, and since then I have recovered over $400,000 worth of merchandise and cash for my employers. I know its a weird story, but its true. The best loss prevention specialists are former thieves, etc. Plus, since I have no record and have since graduated with two degrees I am considering becoming a police officer... sometimes catching a thief isn't enough, since alot of times its a case of kleptomania and the thrill gets them off, so I say if you can't beat 'em, give them a chance to redeem themselves... I am not talking about violent, repeat offenders with criminal records, but there is no such thing as a normal shoplifter... think about that.
—Guest James


I was an employee, and witnessed a male stuffing lots of merchandise in pants and shirts, when I said stop, he began to run and the supervisor (Female)turned around with back to the shoplifter saying we can do anything, and he ran out. This Rite Aide in Tulare CA (Store 5464) does this all the time and it has always been a real problem. When confronting management, they state our policy is to let them go. Does that mean you turn your back? Does tht mean you don't visually get a discription for the police? The police would ask for the tapes and the manager would not even give them. This is loss prevention at it's worst and the supervisor sets a bad example for the others and I know this because I heard other employees say, if the Supervisor does'nt care, why should I! Policy is that only one cashier uses the drawer at a time, but not at this store! Everyone gets their hands in the drawer even when the original casher is away and then gets slammed at the end of the night for shortag

Handling Shoplifters

Yes, most of the time telling a shoplifter that if they cooperate you will not call the police works. However I have had several incidents where I would find out that the shoplifter was not honest with me which makes it very difficult to track the individual down when I am supposed to prosecute them. I still tell them that I will not call the police if they cooperate, but if they have no form of identification you can not trust a theif.
—Guest Corey (Loss Prevention)


Call the school teacher too, with the parents, and make the school feel that the kid needs to be spoken to by both the teacher and the parents.
—Guest carolannhogg@gmail.com

Handling Shoplifters

Handle suspects in a careful, respective matter. When you have to get them back into the store, for there personal info, and collect the items back. What really works 90 percent of the time is if you mention their shoplifting activities and that you don't plan on calling the police if they are willing to cooperate. They will then usually work with you.
—Guest Tosh Anderson (Security Supervisor)

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