Shoplifting, a longstanding issue for retailers, has taken on new dimensions in recent times, posing significant challenges to businesses across America and Canada. Post COVID world is not the same as “the new normal” is now not having money to pay bills, extreme high housing cost, high cost of living, increased taxes and the result isn’t pretty, shoplifting as never before. Is there a cure for crumbling of society, perhaps many if not one, what can be done for shoplifting to go back to minimum and what are businesses in Canada doing to prevent thieves from depleting their stock and potentially bankrupting them?
The Rise in Shoplifting Incidents
In both America and Canada, shoplifting incidents have seen a notable increase in recent years. Economic hardships, societal factors, and the ease of reselling stolen goods online have all contributed to this rise. Retailers, from small local stores to large chains, are grappling with the financial strain caused by these thefts, leading to a reevaluation of security measures.
Tweets in recent weeks have indicated that locals have been observing what they perceive to be the odd sight of uniformed police personnel stationed near the security sensors at a number of Winners sites around Toronto. Very unusual sight in peaceful and law abiding country of Canada.
Is Police presence in stores becoming the new normal in Canada?
Winners had enough in Toronto, paying police officers to protect their goods is obviously cheaper than letting thieves rampage their stores. Yet, is Winners the only store to do so? We can not confirm any other stores to be doing the same, but what can be said is that many restaurants throughout the GTA employ off duty police officers for years not in order to protect peace and safety for their guests. This is another blow to Canadian society that was seen as one of the best in the world.
What Canadians can witness on daily basis when shopping is that security measures went up. Businesses spend much more resources on loss prevention than ever before. Security personnel or barriers and gates can be seen throughout grocery stores, security guards and loss prevention officers throughout LCBO’s, shopping malls and so on.
Internet is full of LCBO and other store stories.
Strategies that can be employed by businesses
Enhanced Security Systems: Retailers are investing in advanced security systems, including high-quality surveillance cameras, electronic article surveillance (EAS) systems, and alarms. These technologies act as deterrents and provide valuable evidence for law enforcement.
Training and Awareness: Businesses are training their staff to recognize suspicious behavior and employ customer service techniques to deter theft discreetly. Awareness campaigns among employees emphasize the importance of vigilance and cooperation with security protocols.
Collaboration with Law Enforcement: Retailers are working closely with local law enforcement agencies to share information about shoplifting patterns and suspected individuals. Partnerships with law enforcement help businesses identify repeat offenders and take proactive measures.
Innovative Retail Design: Retailers are reimagining store layouts to minimize blind spots and optimize visibility. Clear sightlines and strategic placement of mirrors and displays discourage shoplifters, as they are aware they are being observed.
Data Analytics and Predictive Policing: Some businesses are leveraging data analytics to identify theft patterns and predict potential hotspots. Predictive policing algorithms help law enforcement allocate resources effectively, focusing on areas with higher probabilities of shoplifting incidents.
Private Security Firms: Many retailers are hiring private security firms to provide uniformed guards or undercover personnel. The visible presence of security personnel and covert surveillance operations create a sense of deterrence among potential thieves.
Community Engagement: Retailers are engaging with local communities to raise awareness about the impact of shoplifting on businesses and communities. Community involvement fosters a sense of ownership, encouraging residents to report suspicious activities.
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What can Government do to prevent shoplifting?
Probably the best government can do to prevent shoplifting is to reverse engineer times where shoplifting was at much lower level. That would probably be pre COVID times. Times where Canadians could purchase a home under $500 K while their income was same as now, times where groceries were half the price, carbon taxes did not exist and factories were the main source of income. When thinking about it, those times will most likely never come back.
The rise in shoplifting incidents in America and Canada underscores the need for a multifaceted approach to security. Businesses are not only adopting advanced technologies and security measures but also focusing on collaboration, community engagement, and employee training. By employing a combination of these strategies, retailers can create a safer shopping environment, deter potential thieves, and protect their businesses from financial losses. As the battle against shoplifting continues, the collective efforts of businesses, law enforcement, and communities play a crucial role in mitigating this challenge and ensuring the sustainability of retail establishments in the long run.
The vicious cycle continues! The extra expanses for security and advance technologies will be added on top of already high prices of goods in Canada. Policing and loss prevention measures I am afraid will not be enough to reduce both, prices and shoplifting.