By Ron VandenBoom
by Ron VandenBoom
The Havre Daily News
Friday, May 7
Recent publicity and concern over increases in shoplifting have prompted me to follow the lead of Havres Asst. City Attorney, Tammi Barkus, and scope out the World Wide Web to learn what the experts have to say.
One of the first sites I ran into offered a simple true/false test to determine how much you as a merchant or customer know about shoplifting laws. It raised some interesting questions.
If you are caught shoplifting, can you be banned from ever shopping there again?
If you are with someone who shoplifts, can you be charged with theft?
Is shoplifting different than theft?
Can you serve jail time for shoplifting?
Is attempted shoplifting a criminal offense?
The answer to all of these questions is yes, but check out the questions for yourself at www.adss.on.ca/jha_ssm/shop13.htm
The site is one page of a lesson plan for school age children that is presented by the S.T.O.P. Shoplifting Committee of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.
Another interesting page at this site is the Why Young People Shoplift page.
Reasons the page gives for why people shoplift are peer pressure, the thrill, boredom, need, money, a dare, attention, and believing it to be a joke.
Barkus suggested the Concord Police Department Website at www.ecis.com/~noslo/shoplift.html.
This site examines ways to control shoplifting and employee theft.
Like Barkus herself, the site recommends employers use their greatest asset, employees, to combat shoplifting.
The site recommends employers train their employees to be attentive, familiarize them with state laws, and establish procedures for them to follow if they suspect shoplifting.
The site makes suggestions on store arrangements that discourage shoplifting and also discusses how to arrange items on the shelf so missing items are easily noticed.
Easy to follow instructions that will not cost the employer a lot of money good common sense practices are the strong suit of this page.
Regardless of how well your store is arranged or efficient your employees, a die-hard shoplifter will still occasionally target your store.
If you catch them, prosecute them. Word that you are not an easy mark is some of the best advertising you can get and it saves you money.
Employees should also watch a customers hands, pockets, and purses. Notice open packages, shopping bags, or knapsacks.
The nervous customer who appears to be loitering or a group that attempts to distract you is also a good warning sign.
Another site Barkus recommends is www.sandy-city.net/shoplift.htm.
The site lists in a simple and straight-foreword way, the best things to watch for and the best prevention tips.
While some of their suggestions might mean an investment in security cameras, magnetic tags, or other expensive devices for keeping an eye on the store, many of their suggestions are simple solutions or can utilize equipment already installed in the store.
One suggestion I found interesting was for periodic announcements over intercom systems asking security to call 501 or some other number. Even if your store has no security officer, the shoplifter will think you do. He or she might even think that they are the reason for the announcement.
Have your employees greet customers at as soon as possible. It lets the customer know you are aware of them. This no-cost deterrent has been proven time and again to reduce shoplifting.
This site also suggests employees be assigned areas of responsibility they can watch.