9 Crimes Every Retail Store Must Track To Prevent Losses

Retail crimes account for significant losses in the retail industry around the world. A 2020 British Retail Consortium study stated the total cost of retail crime at £2.2 billion.

When we talk about crimes in retail a number of topics can be raised. However, to keep things focused we have mapped out some of the most common crimes companies should address to improve their loss prevention strategies

9 Crimes Retail Stores Must Track


1. Shoplifting


In 2019/2020, Statista recorded 359,000 shoplifting crimes in England and Wales. Over 20,000 of these crimes took place just in the month of October. 

Shoplifting is a part of product theft, which not only directly impacts the profit of the business, but also puts into the question the security management of the respective stores in which the theft happened.

Preventing shoplifting is easier than it seems. In reality it requires more store surveillance, tagging products with a tag that triggers an alarm upon leaving the store and reporting the incidents as they happen. In that way the store staff can be on top of potential cases and prevent them from happening. 

2. Robbery & Attempted Robbery


Robbery is the use or threat of force for theft/attempted theft. Successful robberies have a direct impact on stock levels. If robbers steal cash, this affects a business’ profit and liquidity. 

With an attempted robbery, a business may not have direct losses, but the crime can affect employee morale and consumer’s feelings of safety which can affect your brand. Tracking these incidents can help retailers put more effective security measures in place and be more prepared for potential cases in the future.

3.  Unauthorised Intrusion & Burglary


These crimes involve entry into your store or property without authority and with the intent to steal. This can be an intrusion by outsiders, or it can be by your staff, contributing to insider crime.

Prevention of this type of crime can be done by getting an active alarm system that will trigger upon entry outside of working hours, CCTV and recording the incidents by reporting them when they have happened. In that way the management of the company will get a better picture of what stores in their business are under most threat and mitigate these risks by allocating resources to most critical areas. 

4. Money Fraud & Counterfeit Cash


80% of retailers in the UK identified fraud as a significant retail crime. This includes different types of incidents like money fraud (the use of illegal means like bad cheques, counterfeit bills, and stolen credit cards) used to purchase goods.

This is problematic for the obvious reasons. If someone pays with counterfeit cash, that you actually didn't sell them anything. They just openly stole goods right in front of you. 

Prevention of this includes actively checking for counterfeit bills, which is something that can be done with a chip and pin system. In other words, paying with cash isn't possible. Moreover, if someone tries to pay with a stained bill, you can always make a rule of not accepting these as they might after certain wear and tear no longer have a value. 

5. Payment Card Crime


Card and credit card fraud are ranked at 30% and 60% respectively amongst the most common retail fraud types.

For this type of crime the prevention methods include the secure chip and pin system, where you require a person to use their payment card pin when making purchases. According to nidirect, you can also check the cards for any of the following:

  • start and expiry dates
  • signs of tampering
  • matching number on the card and till printout
  • matching signature

Another great way to track and prevent these crimes is to always report them. That will help everyone working for the company to be more aware to notice any malpractices around card payments. 

6. Checkout Fraud


Northern Ireland Business Info defines checkout fraud as “a number of tactics where criminals avoid paying in full for goods when paying at the tills. Examples include swapping barcodes or price stickers for a less expensive item or deliberately failing to swipe a product at a self-checkout.” 

It also comprises voucher or credit fraud, and a practice called sweethearting, which means employees giving discounts to people they know.

Preventing this type of fraud is done by training staff to monitor the checkout screen carefully when beeping products through, always reporting the incidents when they are noticed and making highlighting a rule that sweethearting isn't allowed.  

7. Return & Refund fraud


This is another variation of crimes that take place at a till. Culprits try to return used, different or shoplifted items to get refunded in cash or credit. Others use fake receipts or proof of purchase to substantiate refunds.

According to ReturnLogic, some measures you can take in order to better track these are modifying your return policy, making sure to cross-reference receipts with your sales system, implementing shark tags and introducing a restocking fee. But most importantly, make sure you log the fraud attempts in a system where you can easily track and monitor them to prevent future frauds from happening. 

8. Trespassing


Businesses have the right to refuse admission to their properties. By banning previous crime offenders, retailers can claim trespassing if the offenders enter the store or commit another crime after the ban.

Make sure you track these by reporting trespassers, and involve relevant authorities when needed. You are reducing risks by doing this.

9. Vandalism & Nuisance


It may seem minor, but vandalism can pose major costs to a business. Graffiti, property damage and other kinds of vandalism require money and time to repair. Not to mention the stains they leave for the customer experience.

To prevent this type of crime, you will need to increase the amount of security surveillance on your property, and actively log the cases to learn when and how they happen to adjust your protective strategy accordingly. 

Final Thoughts


These were the nine most common crime types to address in order to spot trends and improve loss prevention strategies in retail business. By monitoring, logging, reporting and tracking these crimes you will also create a safer environment for your employees and customers. 

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Camilla Petersen

Country Manager, Denmark