We recently completed our 24th Annual Retail Theft Survey with 24 major retail companies participating, representing 18,518 stores, with retail sales exceeding $589 billion in 2011. The survey participants were all large retail companies (department stores, mass merchants, big box) who practice true loss prevention strategies, yet they still apprehended over 1 million shoplifters and dishonest employees in 2011, and recovered more than $161 million from those apprehensions.
In 2011, both the apprehensions and recovery dollars from shoplifters and dishonest employees rose; up 5.8% and 11.4% respectively. While shoplifter apprehensions rose 6 % and dishonest employee apprehensions rose 3.3%, the recovery dollars from these apprehensions was up 13.9% for shoplifters and 5.6% for dishonest employees. It should also be noted that shoplifter apprehensions and recovery dollars have increased in eight of the past 10 years. The seriousness of retail theft is a much greater problem than many people realize. These theft losses are driving retail prices higher and putting some stores out of business.
Below are some of the highlights from our 24th Annual Retail Theft Survey:
• Apprehensions: Survey participants apprehended 1,005,003 shoplifters in 2011, an increase of 5.9% from the prior year.
• Recoveries: Dollars recovered from shoplifting apprehensions totaled over $113 million in 2011, a 13.9% increase from 2010. This was the 9th increase in shoplifting recovery dollars in the past 10 years.
• For the 15th consecutive year, dollars recovered from shoplifters where no apprehension was made (over $37 million) increased. In 2011, this increase was a substantial 13.5%.
• Case value: The average shoplifting case value in 2011 was $113.30, which was an increase of 7.5% from 2010’s average case value.
• One out of every 36 employees was apprehended for theft from their employer in 2011. (Based on comparison data of over 2.8 million employees.)
• Apprehensions: Survey participants apprehended 71,505 dishonest employees in 2011, up 3.3% from 2010.
• Recoveries: Dollars recovered from dishonest employee apprehensions totaled over $47 million in 2011, an increase of 5.6% from 2010.
• Apprehensions: 69,373 dishonest employees were apprehended in 2010, down 0.4% from 2009.
• On a per case average, dishonest employees steal almost six times the amount stolen by shoplifters ($665.77 versus $113.30).
• The average dishonest employee case value in 2011 was $665.77, a 2.29% increase over 2010’s average case value ($650.84).
We asked our survey participants what they thought was the cause(s) behind the increase in shoplifting apprehensions and recovery dollars in 2011 and they contributed the following to increased shoplifting activity:
• Increased Organized Retail Crime (ORC) activity
• Poor economy is causing more shoplifting to take place
• Less store supervision and staffing
• Better training and awareness of LP staff and employees
• More open selling display strategies
We also asked or survey participants what they thought was the cause(s) behind the increase in employee theft apprehensions and recovery dollars in 2011, and they contributed the following to increased employee theft activity:
• Increase focus on specialized investigations
• Enhanced detection strategies
• Improved LP investigative training and interviews
• Less store supervision
• Poor economy is causing an increase in theft
How can companies reduce their vulnerability to shoplifting and internal theft? Listed below are a few suggestions:
• Provide good customer service: Shoplifters want and need privacy; so take it away from them. When they respond "I'm just looking," teach employees to say "Ok great, I’ll keep my eye on you in case you need any assistance.” Honest customers are ok with this (you are there if they need help), and this is the last thing a shoplifter wants to hear.