The State of the Loss Prevention Industry: 2007 Update

Mark Doyle on what industry statistics from the 19th Annual Retail Theft Survey really say

We recently completed our 19th Annual Retail Theft Survey, and for just the second time in the past 9 years, the participating retailers reported both the apprehensions and recovery dollars from shoplifters and dishonest employees increased in 2006. Shoplifting apprehensions and recovery dollars were up an amazing 11.2 percent and 13.9 percent respectively, while employee theft apprehensions increased almost 7 percent and their recovery dollars were up over 16 percent. The losses are simply staggering!

The 19th Annual Retail Theft Survey covers 23 major retail companies, representing 14,118 stores, with retail sales exceeding $537 billion (2006), and reports thieves stole over $6.0 billion from these retailers in 2006. It should be noted that the survey participants are large retail companies who practice true loss prevention strategies, yet they still apprehended over 530,000 shoplifters and dishonest employees in 2006, and recovered more than $116 million from those apprehensions, an increase of 10.6 percent and 15.15 percent respectively. [Full table data appears at the bottom of this article.]

Below are some of the highlights from our 19th Annual Retail Theft Survey:

• In 2006, survey participants apprehended 463,682 shoplifters, reflecting a sizeable increase of 11.21 percent from the prior year (416,956).
• Dollars recovered from those shoplifter apprehensions totaled over $59.6 million in 2006, an amazing 13.96 percent increase over 2005 recoveries ($52.3 million). This was the 6th straight year of shoplifting recovery increases.
• Dollars recovered from shoplifters where no apprehension was made increased for the 10th consecutive year. In 2006, this increase was 2.43 percent.
• The average shoplifting case value in 2006 was $128.71, which was a 2.48 percent increase over 2005's average case value ($125.60).

Employee Theft
• In 2006, survey participants apprehended 66,507 dishonest employees, an increase of 6.57 percent over 2005's apprehensions.
• Dollars recovered from dishonest employee apprehensions totaled over $56.6 million in 2006, a substantial increase of 16.44 percent over 2005's recovery dollars ($48.6 million).
• One out of every 27.9 employees was apprehended for theft from their employer in 2006. (Based on comparison data of over 1.85 million employees.)
• The average dishonest employee case value in 2006 was $851.44, a 9.26 percent increase over 2005 ($779.27).

Why did shoplifting apprehensions and recovery dollars both increase so dramatically in 2006? We asked the survey participants and they gave us four primary reasons:

• With an increase in organized retail theft, they focused more attention on the shoplifting issue.
• They had additional loss prevention personnel on the floor looking for shoplifters.
• There was more of a focus on and much better use of CCTV in their highest loss departments and areas.
• More emphasis on employee training and awareness and award programs for reporting possible shoplifting activities, resulted in more calls/leads from the sales floor.

We also asked our survey participants why they experienced an increase in both dishonest employee apprehensions and recovery dollars in 2006. They gave us the following five primary reasons:

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