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Organized Crime Stop shoplifting gangs from hurting your shop.

By Gwen Moran Edited by Frances Dodds

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Organized retail theft accounts for $30 billion in annualstore-level losses, according to the FBI. Professional shopliftinggangs are such a problem that in January, President George W. Bushsigned legislation requiring the creation of a national database toidentify organized retail crime, which should help law enforcementofficials target areas with high levels of this kind ofactivity.

Barbara Staib of the NationalAssociation for Shoplifting Prevention in Jericho, New York,says the organization's information gathered from convictedshoplifters indicates the best deterrents:

  • Attentive employees: "For a shoplifter, anonymityis key," says Staib. When your employees acknowledge acustomer, it tells the individual that he or she has been seen andcould be identified later. Train employees to watch for typicalgang behavior where one individual creates a stack of items thatwill then be stolen by a second individual. Offer to keep selecteditems behind the counter.
  • Electronic devices: Video cameras and electronic articlesurveillance tags, or EAS tags, make it more difficult to removearticles from your store undetected.
  • Prosecution: Staib says shoplifting gangs have becomemore prevalent due to inconsistent shoplifter punishment andrehabilitation. Stores known for pressing charges on shopliftersare less likely to be targets.

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