Shoplifting is one of the most common crimes in the world. Statistics from the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention states that approximately 1 in 11 Americans are shoplifters. Some shoplifters have discovered that with the use of a shopping cart, they can look less conspicuous and retrieve more items at once, rolling large volumes of unpaid goods out the door. This type of shoplifting is called pushout theft. This term is used in the retail industry describing an event in which a person fills a shopping cart with merchandise and exits the store without paying. Thieves have discovered they can steal high volumes of expensive merchandise in a pushout theft event. The availability to easily resell items on the Internet makes this type of crime all too desirable. Due to the recent economic downturn as well as the organized retail crime on the rise, pushout theft is continuing to grow, severely reducing store’s revenue.
There are a number of methods stores can use to prevent loss. Loss prevention measures to prevent pushout theft ranges from item sensors, security cameras, security guards, and vertical pole shopping cart attachments. However, the most effective solution to prevent pushout theft is with the use of a shopping cart locking wheel solution.
Shopping cart locking wheel solutions work by replacing one wheel on each cart with a locking wheel. Any exitways out of the store have an invisible perimeter in place. Carts equipped with a locking wheel become disabled at the exit when a shoplifter attempts to quickly leave the store. Shoppers that have paid for their merchandise may exit having never known the system was in place. An in-store visible and audible alarm enables store personnel to respond immediately when a theft event occurs and recover the merchandise that could not be pushed out of the store. This type of system can also be tied in with video monitoring systems to record the event as well. The cost to invest in a cart wheel lock pushout theft prevention system is quickly recouped from the amount of merchandise that is recovered. The Return on Investment for this type of system is estimated to be under one year.
There are also a number of unique products designed to prevent the use of merchandise if it is stolen. These unique products consist of sensors or pieces of plastic attached to the merchandise. Although item sensors and plastic attachments can be extremely effective, they do not always prevent the merchandise from leaving the store, as many thieves have found ways to remove the sensors. Even when sensors are left on some gutsy thieves have been known to run when the alarm sounds or in other scenarios they walk out next to someone else and when the alarm sounds they pretend the alarm was due to the other shopper then slyly slip out of the store while the others check for sensors perhaps accidentally left on items in their own bags. Additionally, one other downfall can be that some stores choose not to equip every item in a store with a sensor since it can get costly, thus choosing to only do some. Items left that are not equipped with sensors are still easily stolen.
Security cameras are another method stores use to prevent theft. Security cameras allow store personnel to watch the store floor at all times and always have a record of any event. When shoplifters are aware the store uses security cameras, they are less inclined to steal. Security cameras do not however, always stop shoplifters from stealing, but at most minimize loss. The cameras record the event taking place, but they require extra store personnel to not only be watching and noticing at the time of the event but personnel must then track down the shoplifter to get back the stolen merchandise. While the locking shopping cart wheel solutions stops unpaid merchandise from leaving the store, security cameras cannot. They are best used to help backup the evidence of events.
A security guard is a person hired to protect property, assets, and people. Shoppers are less inclined to steal if they know they are being watched by an authority. Security guards are extremely beneficial when is comes to preventing pushout theft as they are standing by the exit making sure no one is walking out with unpaid merchandise. However, in order for security guards to be effective, one must be placed at each exitway of the store preventing shoplifters from leaving. Breaks must be coordinated as to not leave any exitways unattended and the hiring of extra personnel can become costly.
Another method to prevent shopping carts from leaving the store therefore reducing pushout theft is the attachment of a vertical pole to the shopping cart. The vertical pole physically stops the cart from leaving the store by being taller then the doorway. Although pole attachments do prevent carts from leaving the store with unpaid merchandise they also prevent shoppers from being able to leave the store with the cart at all, even to carry large items that they have just purchased to their vehicles. This often frustrates shoppers and leaves them with a bad impression of the store.
There are many loss prevention methods available to prevent shoplifting and pushout theft events. Stores must carefully consider each option to choose the most effective solution. With shoplifting on the rise, stores must act quickly to protect their merchandise and reduce loss.