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Retail crime: Low-cost ways to reduce your risk

You don’t have to spend big bucks on the latest technology — taking a few simple steps can help deter potential offenders. It’s a great way to protect your business and keep you and any staff safe.

High cost of retail crime

Retail crime includes petty theft, organised large-scale theft, assault, property damages, e-crime and credit card fraud. It costs New Zealand businesses an estimated one billion dollars in losses every year.

If you’ve been a target, you’ll know the costs can be high. There’s the cost of replacing stolen property and repairing any damage done. But there are other costs:

  • Managing the trauma suffered by employees.
  • Carrying out extra admin tasks related to the criminal activity, eg insurance claims, police reports.
  • The stress associated with managing the impact of criminal activity.

Simple steps to reduce retail crime

There are plenty of small things you can do to help deter thieves. Retail NZ and the New Zealand Police give the following advice:

  • Well-trained and motivated staff are the most effective deterrent in any store.
  • Greet each customer and give them prompt attention when they enter your store. If you can’t serve them immediately, acknowledge them by making eye contact.
  • Trust your instincts.
  • Don’t stereotype — anyone can steal and anything can be stolen.

If you have any incidents of crime in or around your shop, report it to the Police — even if the offenders are children.

Security and loss prevention at Christmas(external link) — Retail NZ

Focus on security

Take a walk through your shop and wider premises, and consider everything through the eyes of a potential offender. Check your doors, windows, grilles, locks and alarms are in good working order.

Tips from the Police include:

  • Keep windows clear of posters, shelving and advertising which block the view into the shop.
  • Make sure people outside can see clearly into the shop. The darker your shop is, and the more hidden you are from the street, the greater the opportunity for theft and robbery.
  • Put up clearly visible signs that let customers know you have security measures, like cameras and drop safes.
  • Make sure the interior of the shop is well lit during work hours and after hours.
  • Put the cash register at the front of the store near the main entrance. This will help deter thieves, as they have to walk past your staff when entering or exiting the store.
  • Make sure all areas of the shop can be seen from the sales counter.

For further information, see prevention advice on the Police website:

Shop theft(external link) — NZ Police

Robbery(external link) — NZ Police

Aggressive customers(external link) — NZ Police

Protect your business(external link) — NZ Police

Can I name and shame people who steal from my shop?(external link) — Retail NZ

Make sure people outside can see clearly into your shop.

Make sure people outside can see clearly into your shop.

Offenders feel safer when people outside can’t see what’s going on inside.

Train your staff

Make sure everyone knows what to do:

  • to help prevent retail crime
  • if they are faced with an aggressive customer
  • in the event of a robbery or armed holdup.

Consider doing some scenario practice, or bring in an expert to run training sessions for you.

Talk with other businesses

Have regular contact with other local businesses so you can share information about any issues or successes. A good way to do this is to set up a business support group. When you meet, you can invite speakers or arrange a training session together and share the cost.

Business support groups(external link) — NZ Police

Talk to the local Police crime prevention unit about other things you and any staff can do, and talk to your industry organisation, eg Retail NZ, about support and advice for managing crime.

Shoplifting and crime: How we can help(external link) — Retail NZ

Contacts address book

0800 472 472 — Retail NZ advice services weekdays 9am—5pm

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