Theft whether it’s internal or external can be detrimental for any small business. While it is possible to happen any time of the year, December brings large busy crowds and a heightened risk of theft. SME retailers beware, the level of fraud is climbing and it’s nothing to be jolly about.

    Trained security guards are reassuring for not only your customers but your staff too, and serves as an active deterrent for shoplifters. Well-trained guards with good customer service is another bonus. Being able to help and interact with customers at busy times while on the lookout for suspicious activity is a skill not to be underestimated.
    Retail undercover detectives have been recognised as a crucial part to any security strategy, especially to prevent organised gangs who target garments and products of high value and bag snatching or purse-dipping your customers too. These detectives are trained to spot the range of methods that criminals would use in your store and to identify where gangs prey on customers. This may involve switching price labels or collusion with dishonest staff members at the point of sales or goods returns. Detectives are most effective when they work in unison with uniformed guards and security systems to stop crime legally and safely.
    Working with local police and building your relationship with them greatly reduces crime and helps identify local repeat offenders and organised gangs. There is also a number of groups that provide information for retailers and help them work with the police. ICE Security’s new system is backed up in the cloud and linked to local police, so if an incident does happen they can login live.
    Organised thieves and gangs are a growing problem. It starts with one to distract one of your staff members. Then one or more will move around the store to avoid detection. Groups like Retailers Against Crime help combat this problem, ask other retailers in your area and keep each other informed.
    By having friendly, active and helpful staff, you may just have the best deterrent yet. Staff approaching shoppers (suspicious or not) offering help, is a key tactic highlighted by industry experts in deterring shoplifters. Providing good customer service by greeting customers and making eye contact lets them know you have seen them.
    SME’s need to take advantage of extra security systems and there’s no excuse with CCTV becoming increasingly more affordable. Independent retailers with no CCTV are more likely to be a target, than one’s with. It’s common sense. Also, don’t underestimate a simple warning sign. Warning signs and cameras (whether they work or not) make a huge difference in deterring thieves. Tracking devices are popular with larger retailers which raise an alarm when products are taken off the premises. Simple and effective, but remember to provide your staff with proper training on what to do if the alarm does go off. Another key tool for crimefighting retailers is Auckland-based software company Auror. Auror provides a web platform where retailers can report crime incidents from their stores in just a few minutes. Nearby stores and Police get alerted to crimes instantly, providing valuable intelligence about offenders, the items they like to target, groups they operate with, vehicles they use and more. The base level of Auror’s award-winning platform is free for retailers. ICE Security advises retailers to upgrade their old cameras to the latest technology. Most cheap recording equipment are affordable, sure, but will not last in the long run. ICE Security’s equipment have one centralized point where your servers are hosted. Their system allows you to have full access and limit your staff to portions of it from any PC or mobile. To find out more about their impressive product range, visit
    Maybe it’s time to rethink your store’s layout. Have you got some corners that need to be a bit more open? A good store layout is key for your customers mind as well by creating an easy in and out flow. Thankfully, minimalism is trending and you can have your store completely open so you can see a pin drop from across the room. You might also want to redirect your CCTV to areas your staff do not have a direct line of view of. Things with higher price tags that aren’t impulse buys should also be moved somewhere close to staff or into display cabinets.
    Unfortunately, some staff members are rotten eggs and think that stealing from small businesses is okay. Internal theft accounted for 5.3 percent of all retail crime last year in the UK. These ‘incidents’ may go undetected at first with Christmas shopping and increased quantity and movement of merchandise. Retailers beware, this is most common to occur at point of sale, returns areas and changing rooms. Hiring staff like this can be prevented by checking and questioning their references and employment history.
    Fraud is huge in the online world, especially in highly competitive markets with low margins and fast turnovers. Here are three basic things to look out for as an online retailer; does the delivery address match the cardholder’s address, foreign credit cards, high value and high volume orders from new customers. In some cases, it’s a good idea to investigate. For example, online retailer Garden4Less had a customer flagged as suspicious when they bought a £500 battery mower. After a quick look on Google Maps, they didn’t even have a lawn. They then rang the phone number given by the customer and it was unobtainable. After they sent an email asking them to contact the company and put the order to the side. “If you do get through ask them questions about the order, the ones that are argumentative are likely to be fraud,” the team at Garden4Less said.
    Is your CCTV or anti-theft equipment working and is it directed in the same area you put it in? Can images and video be easily checked and identified on a monitor after an incident? You should also organise an annual security audit, this ensures your equipment is not only working, but effective and a great way to see what combinations work best. Larger stores should have an extensive security strategy that include the use of CCTV, EAS tagging and EPoS till monitoring. Make a list, check it twice.