Dealing with Shoplifters

December 21, 2022 News Newsletters

By Tony Stapleton,
SDA Trainer.

If you work in retail, at some point in your career, you will no doubt see someone shoplifting. When you see someone shoplifting, you may feel like it is your responsibility to stop them or intervene – but it’s not.

It’s not in your job description to be a security guard – and intervening could pose a health and safety risk to yourself and others nearby, including customers. You cannot get in trouble for not stopping shoplifting, and your pay cannot be deducted for the losses.

It’s important to familiarise yourself with the company policy and procedures if you do witness shoplifting. They will vary from company to company but in general:

  • You should report the incident to management or loss prevention as soon as possible;
  • Note a general description of the offender and the time, location, department and date of the offence. If you work in a large store, the perpetrator may be on CCTV and this can help locate them;
  • Stay in the general area of the shoplifter. Just the presence of a staff member can often make a shoplifter rethink their crime.

Although it may seem counter intuitive, you can get in trouble for attempting to STOP shoplifting, as it may breach the stores policy and procedures and create a health and safety hazard. Penalties for violating policy and procedure can range from written warnings to termination of your employment.

Do not:

  • confront, threaten or accuse the shoplifter;
  • follow the shoplifter out of the store; or
  • touch or attempt to obstruct the shoplifter.

Instances of shoplifting are reported to be on the rise with the increased cost of living. Familiarise yourself with your company’s shoplifting policy and if you have any questions, contact the SDA for support and advice.