Sen. Vincent J. Fumo

District Office

1208 Tasker Street
Phila, PA 19148

Harrisburg Office

545 Main Capitol
Hbg, PA 17120



 How to Prevent Shoplifting and Retail Crimes
  • Require full identification (at least two different cards, etc.) when accepting any check for a purchase; limit checks to actual purchase total - nothing more.
  • Offer discounts for customers who pay in cash.
  • Watch persons wandering aimlessly up and down store aisles, fingering objects and frequently glancing at employees and other customers.
  • Watch a person coming in with a package - it could be a spring-box into which the person can stuff merchandise (the door closes and the package still looks the same).
  • Be Alert: shopping bags, knitting bags, open-top boots, umbrellas and baggy clothing are favorites for stuffing stolen items into; all business employees should be mindful of this so they can watch for it.
  • Remember: shoplifters often operate in teams; one will distract an employee while another steals.
  • Clothing stores: watch persons taking more than one item into the dressing room (two suits, two shirts, etc.); they sometimes come out with only one (with the other worn under the shoplifter's own clothes).
  • Notice customers wearing overcoats or raincoats when weather does not require it (large inside pockets or hoods are great shoplifting techniques inside such coats).
  • All stores: easily removed items should not be near the front or other major doors; larger items should be there (unless the larger items happen to be TV sets or radios).
  • Cash register: should be open only when in use for a sale; it is an old trick to start conversation to distract the clerk after the register is open during a purchase ring-up; paper money can be easily slipped out of the register by a "professional" shoplifter.

    Rules of the thumb: don't allow any other customer to distract you while you are handling one customer. Bolt small or light weight cash registers to the counter to prevent if from being carried off; close the cash register while wrapping merchandise; keep your register locked when you are away from it and in another part of the store.

  • Shortchange artists: instruct employees to accept payment from only one customer at a time-never be in a hurry; don't let any customer get you rattled by fast talk or impatience. When accepting money from a customer, lay it on top of the drawer while making change and handing the change to the customer - this prevents someone from then telling you they've been "short-changed" when they really haven't. Shortchange artists have a game of getting the cash register clerk flustered and getting more change than they deserve.
  • If you have fired any employees, change any and all locks (including safe combinations) that the employee may have known about or had keys to - better yet, change locks and combinations on a regular basis anyway; it makes for safer security.
  • Offer a bonus to employees who spot, identify and help prosecute or prevent shoplifting and other retail crimes.
  • Never prosecute anyone for shoplifting unless you are sure it is that person who took the item; when you are certain of who took that item, always prosecute - and insist on restitution (if any)! Some businesses like to "avoid" the controversy by not prosecuting shoplifters . . . this is wrong. Consumers pay higher prices to offset shoplifting costs and those businesses haven't taught the thief any lesson.
  • Never leave your safe open, even if it is in a restricted area.
  • For your own protection, always check out the references and background of any new or prospective employees.
  • Remember: shoplifters and other "con artists" exchange information about the "easy places" to do their illegal deeds. If you are lenient with one, or have poor security precautions and awareness among employees, you could be one of the local "targets."
  • Have a buzzer that sounds when the front door is opened; have different sounding buzzers for the other doors too; this deters thieves.
  • If you have a restricted area (such as an office or whatever), watch for persons moving about in those areas. Don't hesitate to ask what their business is; escort them to wherever they claim they want to go. Be wary of someone telling you they are looking for employment or looking for someone whose name you don't recognize.
  • Don't tolerate disorderly conduct inside your business (and be mindful this is sometimes done to distract you while stealing goes on inside the store too); don't hesitate to press charges.
  • Teach your employees these points; make them "security" conscious. Employees that don't care about business security are not good employees. Back to top

For more information, contact the Office of 
State Senator Vincent J. Fumo

1208 Tasker Street
Philadelphia, PA 19148
(215) 468-3866
2637 East Clearfield Street
Philadelphia, PA 19134
(215) 423-7670
Senate Box 203001
Harrisburg, PA 17120-3001
(717) 787-5661


Copyright 1996 by State Senator Vincent J. Fumo. Copyright is not claimed as to part of the original work prepared by an employee of the Senate of Pennsylvania, or Commonwealth governmental officer or employee as part of that person's official duties. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be copied, downloaded, stored, disseminated, transferred, or used, in any forms or by an means, except with State Senator Vincent J. Fumo's prior written permission.


Copyright 2000 Sen. Vincent J. Fumo