How to handle a shoplifting situation

Knowing how to identify and deal with shoplifters is important for shop owners who wish to avoid loss of inventory.

For people living in Virginia, going to the store is a normal and typically uneventful errand. However, there are rare occasions when a person may find him or herself in a situation where he or she is witnesses someone trying to steal merchandise. Whether working in the store or finding oneself in the position of a bystander, it is important to know how to react to and handle these situations. Truly well-informed individuals will be able to identify a shoplifter before the theft even takes place. Nobody wants to end up in this circumstance, however, it is prudent for people to know how to deal with it if it does arise.

How to identify a potential shoplifter

While someone may think they can tell if a person is acting suspicious, a mere hunch is not enough to be able to incriminate anyone. Instead, it is better to look out for the specific indicators pointed out in the following list by Vector Security:

  • Store employees should watch fitting rooms, and take a closer look if someone enters one with a large amount of clothing, and leaves with apparently fewer items.
  • Often, shoplifters will conceal items in large, baggy clothing. While it is not enough to accuse someone outright, if someone is wearing clothing that is unfittingly bulky or baggy for the weather, it may warrant keeping an eye on him or her.
  • One sign that is less common is nervousness and strange behavior.
  • Personnel should be aware of large groups creating a distraction while one or two thieves try to sneak around and quietly take merchandise.

If someone is displaying more than one of the above behaviors, there is a higher chance that he or she may be attempting to steal.

What to do in case of attempted shoplifting

When confronting a shoplifter, store personnel and loss prevention officers should always have identification handy. It is best to approach the thief with more than one person. If approaching a group of shoplifters, make sure the staff outnumbers them. This can prevent thieves from trying to flee or potentially becoming violent. When it is clear that someone is attempting to steal, make preparations to approach them once they have exited the store, as that will be proof that they were trying to steal. This is important because there must be probable cause in order to claim that a theft has been witnessed.

Whether someone in Virginia is trying to press charges against a shoplifter, or he or she has been wrongly accused of shoplifting, it may not always be easy to deal with the court system. In any such event, it may be beneficial to enlist the aid of an attorney in the local area who practices personal injury law.