Optical Shoplifting Prevention

I was at the Vision Source Meeting in San Diego last week. The San Diego Vision Source group were all abuzz because apparently about 20 optometric offices in San Diego had been hit by thieves! Fortunately many offices were made aware of what to look for (African American women, Hispanic man with tat’s) so at least 3 thefts was prevented. This particular group worked in 3’s. Two came in and ‘browsed’ while a 3rd person was in a car, calling the office to ask questions and to distract staff. 

Eye Bogglers

  • $35 million worth of merchandise is stolen from retailers each and every day.
  • 47 percent of inventory shrinkage, which is the most of any type of loss, is attributable to employee theft. (The other categories are shoplifting at 32 percent; administrative error at 14 percent; vendor error at 4 percent; and “unknown” error at 3 percent.)
  • December 2007 Aberdeen Group survey on retail losses found that 60 percent of retailers recorded year-over-year shrink of 1.75 percent
  • Retail analysts have estimated Wal-Mart’s annual shrink at around US$3 billion,
  • Current estimates are as high as 1 in 11 Americans who shoplift in our nation today
  • Shoplifting is America’s #1 property crime

Shoplifting, theft, rip-off, gank, pocket, swipe, five finger discount, boost, jack, clip, petty theft and more are some the common terms for Thefts, then you add in price switching, altering price tags or stickers, it all adds up to enormous amounts of money. Then you have Return Fraud which is estimated to cost retailers about $1 Billion Dollars! 

Guess who pays for shoplifters ultimately- YOU THE TAXPAYER! 

  • You have higher prices consumers must pay to cover the losses from theft.
  • The inconvenience and invasiveness of security measures to consumers when shopping in stores. Higher prices, because stores have to install security people and devices. 
  • The loss of community jobs when stores are forced to close.
  • The loss of local and state sales tax revenue resulting in higher taxes for everyone.
  • The added burden on the police and the courts.
  • The added financial and emotional hardship placed on families resulting from the arrest of a parent or child.

How To Prevent Shoplifting 

1.) Know that shoplifting has no demographics, it covers all ages, all socio-economic types 

2.) Arrange products where employees have a clear view of the office. 

3.) Put mirrors up in blind spots 

4.) Put less expensive merchandise up front, or in hidden alcoves. Keep more expensive merchandise in easily viewed areas. 

5.) Utilize security tags, that can only be taken off by staff 

6.) When showing frames, only show a few at a time. (No more than five) 

7.) Greet all customers, browsers equally and don’t let them alone in the dispensing area. A shoplifter is less likely to go through with his crime if they think someone might be able to identify them.

8.) Take note of baggy clothes, large totes, purses and shopping bags. 

9.) Train staff to watch for shoplifters and even bonus if they catch one/ 

10.)  Shoplifters often work in teams, with one person distracting the employee while the other one shoplifts. Tell your employees avoid distractions and to watch other customers at all times. If you have more than one employee, train them so that only one deals with a dominant customer while the other watches the store floor.

11.) Have a door buzzer, so you know when someone comes in and goes out. 

12.) Know your inventory and stock placement. 

13.) Use Superior Customer Service skills, greeting, being attentive, make it clear you are available (and be available) keep checking back if they are browsing, 


  • Summit Loss Prevention 
  • Shrink Busters-http://www.microsoft.com/midsizebusiness/industries/how-IT-is-helping-retailers-fight-theft.mspx 
  • http://retail.about.com/od/lossprevention/a/stopshoplifting.htm
  • Senator Vincent Fumo- Shoplifting and Retail Crimes 
  • Shoplifting Prevention.org 
  • Crime Preventionhttp://crimeprevention.rutgers.edu/crime/shoplifting/prevention.htm