BBC news report that charity shops are having to remove changing rooms and sell some items online as they are losing thousands of pounds due to a rise in shoplifting.

Office of National Statistics data showed an increase in shoplifting of 32% in England and 36% in Wales.

In the retail sector overall, there were 378,127 and 287,015 recorded shoplifting offences in the years to September 2023 and September 2022 respectively in England and 21,640 recorded shoplifting offences across Wales, compared to 15,939 the previous year.

One charity estimates that it could be losing as much as £87,000 each year and has taken the decision to remove high value items from stores and sell them online.

Whilst regretfully a proportion of the thefts are deemed to be out of necessity due to the cost of living crisis, most are identified as organised criminals stealing for profit.

Police.Uk provide the following advice on securing your shop or retail outlet:

  1. Meet and Greet:

Greeting customers as the enter your premises can put shoplifters off because it sends out a message that you and your staff are paying attention.

  1. Crime Mapping:

Work out where inside the store thefts are happening. Keep records of location, dates, times and CCTV of incidents or suspicious behaviour. This is called ‘crime mapping’. Take a look at this area as if you are seeing it for the first time, then work out what you can do to protect it.

  1. Electronic tagging

Tag your items with ‘Electronic Article Surveillance’. Anti-theft systems encompass a wide range of devices and technologies.

  1. Keep it tidy

A clean and tidy retail outlet with clear visibility across the shop floor tells a thief that everything is shipshape – and that surveillance is also probably first class. Keep things security friendly, with uncluttered, wide aisles where possible, thereby making it extremely difficult for them to steal unnoticed. Ensure that the exterior, the grounds and the building itself are also well maintained and clean, to keep the space as visible as possible.

  1. Personal safety

You can’t predict who’s coming into your shop or how they will behave. Shoplifters could respond aggressively when challenged. Employers should conduct a risk assessment in conjunction with Health and Safety directions. Guidance on retail risk assessment is provided by the Health and Safety Executive.

  1. Safety in numbers

For as much of the day as possible, try not to be alone. Thieves target stores where there is only one member of staff. More eyes in the store, means you’re more likely to spot a thief, so have a few members of staff and make sure they’re trained in how to spot shoplifters. For more guidance, see our page on how to spot a shoplifter.

TIAA’s Security Management Service can provide a range of services to reduce the risks to staff, assets and property. These include proactive and reactive services including;

  • Site security survey to assess risks and recommended crime reduction measures
  • Security awareness, personal safety, lone working training for staff
  • CCTV survey with recommendations
  • Liaison with your local neighbourhood Policing team to highlight issues
  • Incident trend analysis to identify solutions
  • Penetration testing
  • Investigation support
  • Martyn’s Law Protection of Premises advisory service