Updated: Feb 28

Prevent Shoplifting Now!

The National Association for Shoplifting Prevention, stated that over $35 million worth of goods gets stolen daily. TheNational Retail Federation shared that shoplifting contributes to 39% of shrinkage issues in the United States.

It is important for your business's success that you implement a prevention program and start deterring shoplifters now! John O'Dea, an insurance Producer at ERM Insurance Brokers, has successfully helped clients lower their risk of shoplifting using this guideline:

1. Start with Analyzing Your Store Layout

First, you want a layout that makes it challenging for a shoplifter. Follow these layout best practices:

  • Limit the number of entrances and exits at the store. However, make sure this setup remains compliant with building safety codes. Never allow customers to use fire exits unless it’s an actual emergency.

  • Attach a bell or sensor to all store entrances to help keep track of customers as they arrive at the premises.

  • Avoid placing merchandise by store entrances and exits. Doing so could attract shoplifters, giving them the opportunity to swiftly steal the merchandise and leave the premises before getting caught.

  • Keep high-priced merchandise either out of the direct reach of customers (e.g., in locked display cases) or near the checkout counter.

  • Place the checkout counter in a way that requires all customers to pass it before leaving the store.

  • Utilize shorter store shelving and displays to maintain visibility of customers while they shop.

  • Install proper lighting and convex mirrors throughout the store to avoid potential blind spots that shoplifters could take advantage of.

  • If applicable, keep dressing rooms locked while they are not being used to ensure customers have to consult an employee before entering them.

In addition to these layout methods, be sure to keep the store clean and organized at all times. Cluttered aisles and jumbled merchandise can make your store more attractive to shoplifters and lower your ability to quickly detect missing items.

2. Ensure Adequate Security Measures

Utilizing robust security measures at your store can help discourage potential shoplifters, as well as catch such criminals in the act before it’s too late. Consider equipping your store with these top security features:

  • Security cameras—Installing security cameras across the store (with the exception of bathrooms and dressing rooms) will allow you and your staff to have eyes throughout the property and capture high-quality footage of shoplifting incidents.

  • Electronic article surveillance (EAS) systems—An EAS system has two components. First, individual tags that can only be removed with a special device after a secure purchase are placed on store merchandise. Second, sensors consisting of a transmitter and a receiver are installed at store exits. These sensors establish an electronic field that becomes unbalanced if a tagged item passes through them. If someone attempts to steal tagged merchandise, the sensors will trigger an alarm as soon as the shoplifter tries to exit the premises. EAS systems are a critical aspect of any shoplifting prevention program. In fact, several studies have found that EAS systems can help minimize shoplifting losses by as much as 75%.

  • Inventory management technology—Apart from EAS systems, various forms of inventory management technology can also help you better keep track of store merchandise and prevent shoplifting losses. For instance, point-of-sale systems are computerized software that you can utilize during the checkout process to help monitor store inventory, detect false returns or exchanges, and confirm customers’ identities. A wide range of mobile applications have also been created to help store owners conduct physical inventory counts more efficiently via digital barcode scanning.

Further, make sure to implement signage throughout the store to inform customers of the security measures you have in place. Place this signage at the entrances and exits of your store, as well as above any display areas. However, ensure this signage properly reflects your store’s brand and considers your customer base. After all, the goal of these signs is to dissuade shoplifters—not intimidate legitimate customers.

3. Utilize Your Employees

It’s also important to include staff in your shoplifting prevention program. As such, there should be enough employees scheduled during each shift to monitor every section of the store. Designated employees should be responsible for greeting customers as they enter the store, following up with customers while they shop and assisting them when they want to use the dressing rooms (if applicable). If a customer starts carrying around a significant amount of store merchandise, employees should offer to hold items behind the counter for them until they check out. All employees should also be trained on how to detect potential shoplifting behaviors, such as:

  • Shopping in a large group of people

  • Not making direct eye contact with staff

  • Carefully watching employees’ movements but avoiding interaction with them

  • Acting nervous and appearing disinterested in store merchandise

  • Trying to use a dressing room without staff permission or taking a large number of items into the dressing room

  • Frequently glancing at store exits

  • Carrying numerous other shopping bags, purses or backpacks to easily place stolen merchandise into

  • Spending a significant amount of time in one particular area of the store

  • Fidgeting with items’ price markings or EAS tags

During the checkout process, employees should be instructed to carefully remove EAS tags from store merchandise, ensure smaller items aren’t being hidden within larger items and inspect each items’ price markings to make sure they are correct. Employees should be required to provide customers with a copy of their receipt for every purchase.

In the event of a confirmed shoplifting incident, staff should know how to safely respond. This may include contacting the police for assistance. If you are particularly concerned about the risk of shoplifting or your store has been frequently targeted by shoplifters in the past, you may want to consider hiring specialized security personnel in addition to your regular staff.

4. Implement Effective Store Policies

Lastly, it’s critical to develop and enforce various store policies aimed at preventing and responding to shoplifting incidents. Policy topics may include:

  • How merchandise should be organized and displayed within the store

  • How prices are marked on merchandise and what measures are in place to prevent price tampering (e.g., securely attaching price tags with string or staples to minimize tag switching)

  • What the protocols are for managing store inventory

  • Whether customers are permitted to bring shopping bags, purses, strollers or backpacks into dressing rooms (if applicable)

  • How many items customers can have in a dressing room at one time (if applicable)

  • How employees should respond to suspected shoplifters

  • How store evidence (e.g., security camera footage, the triggering of the EAS system and store receipts) will be used to implicate a shoplifter

  • What the process is for prosecuting confirmed shoplifters

For more industry-specific risk management guidance, contact John O'Dea at ERM Insurance Brokers today!

John O'Dea



How To Stay Safe During a Power Outage

You can’t control the weather—but you can take safety measures to protect your family and home against the threat and hazards of power outages. If severe weather or intense winter chill hits unexpectedly, power outages can be dangerous if you’re not prepared. However, if you’re already in the dark, there are still steps you can take to keep everyone safe until your power is restored.

Stay Safe

Staying home and indoors is the best way to stay safe during a power outage. Consider the following tips to cope during an unexpected or extended power outage:

  • Get the essentials. In case the power outage lasts a few days, it’s important to have the following items on hand:

  • Three to seven-day supply of food and water (per person)

  • Flashlight and extra batteries

  • Battery-powered radio

  • First-aid supplies

  • Extra medicine

  • Conserve power. When the storm is approaching or the lights are already out, consider unplugging or turning off electronics and small appliances.

  • Protect your water supply. Some water purification systems may not function when the power goes out. Bottled, boiled or treated water is safe for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene purposes. Check with local officials to ensure your water is safe to drink.

  • Protect your food supply. Remember to keep freezer and refrigerator doors closed as much as possible to maintain cold temperatures. During a power outage, food will stay cold for about four hours in an unopened fridge and about 48 hours in a full, closed freezer—24 hours if it is half full. If necessary, fill coolers with ice to keep food from spoiling.

  • Maintain a normal body temperature.

  • If it’s cold outside, layer up by wearing at least three layers of tops and two layers of bottoms. Look around your home for extra blankets, sleeping bags and winter coats to help you warm up. Learn more about how to recognize and prevent hypothermia.

  • If it’s hot outside, stay cool and drink plenty of fluids to prevent heat-related illness, such as heat stroke and fainting. To avoid heat stress, follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) heat safety tips.

  • Avoid carbon monoxide. To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, use generators outdoors only and at least 20 feet away from your home. Additionally, do not use a gas stove or oven to heat your home.

  • Check on your loved ones. When it’s safe to do so, check in with people to make sure they’re OK or find out if they need assistance.

*If you need to make a trip outside, keep it as brief as possible. Check with your local emergency authorities first to make sure it's safe to drive or travel during severe weather.

Be Prepared

If you are not currently experiencing a power outage, consider the following tips to prepare for a sudden loss of electrical powe

  • Invest in a home generator. A portable backup power source can keep critical equipment like refrigerators, sump pumps and air conditioners running during a blackout.

  • Utilize surge protectors. A UL-listed surge protector can safeguard expensive electronic devices like televisions and desktop computers.

  • Develop a family emergency communications plan. It’s important to have a game plan so everyone knows what to do and when. Decide on a meeting spot, identify shelter locations and store the plan on your cellphone.

  • Assemble an emergency survival kit. Account for your pets, too. The American Red Cross recommends having the following items readily available:

  • One gallon of water per person per day for at least three days

  • Nonperishable food to last each person three days

  • Flashlight and extra batteries

  • First-aid kit

  • Sanitation and personal hygiene items

  • Copies of important personal documents (e.g., medication lists, passports, birth certificates and insurance policies)

  • Cellphone with both wall and car chargers

  • Pet food, supplies and water

  • Emergency contact information for family and friends

For additional emergency preparedness resources, visit the CDC’s Power Outage website.

Most Costly OSHA Violations for the Construction Industry

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) keeps records not only of the most frequently cited standards overall, but also within particular industries. An analysis of the most recent statistics from OSHA reveals the top standards cited in the fiscal year 2020 for the construction industry (NAICS 23). Many of these recurring violations are associated with severe workplace hazards, making it all the more vital to take steps to address these topics within your organization. Here are some of the sector’s most common (and expensive) violations from this past year, as well as best practices for preventing such health and safety concerns:

  • Requirements for protective systems (29 CFR 1926.652)—This standard, which had an average cost per violation (ACV) totaling $7,293 and was cited 429 times this past year, refers to trench safety. Trenches at your construction site that are more than 5 feet deep and not made entirely of solid rock must implement one of three protective systems to prevent cave-ins:

  • Sloping—This process reduces the risk of cave-ins by sloping the soil of the trench back from the trench bottom. Slope angles will vary depending on the type of soil around the trench.

  • Shoring—This process involves installing aluminum, hydraulic or other types of supports to prevent soil movement and cave-ins. Shoring systems typically consist of posts, wales, struts and sheeting.

  • Shielding—This process refers to the use of trench boxes or other types of supports to avoid soil cave-ins. These shields and supports are typically designed or approved by a registered professional.

  • Duty to have fall protection (29 CFR 1926.501)—This standard, which had an ACV totaling $5,435 and was cited 4,323 times this past year, refers to identifying fall hazards and providing protections from those hazards when needed (any time employees must work at a height of 6 feet or more). With this in mind, be sure to provide several forms of fall protection for your employees—including guardrails, safety nets, fall arrest systems, protective equipment and routine safety training.

  • Specific excavation requirements (29 CFR 1926.651)—This standard, which had an ACV totaling $4,864 and was cited 562 times this past year, refers to the practice of providing safe atmospheres, emergency response and installations of access/egress for the structural stability of surface or underground excavations. Specifically, it’s critical to locate nearby utilities, establish adequate means of exit and entry, ensure protection from vehicles, conduct atmospheric monitoring, provide proper rescue equipment and implement measures to keep workers safe from falling materials during excavation projects at the construction site.

Don’t let your organization suffer the costly consequences of an OSHA violation. For additional, industry-specific guidance on OSHA compliance and keeping your workforce safe, contact us today. ERM Insurance 949-222-0444