Deterring Shoplifting in the Time of COVID-19


Deterring Shoplifting in the Time of COVID-19

Table of Contents

I. Shoplifting in the Time of Covid-19: The Statistics

According to several online sources, the number of thefts has more than doubled since the COVID-19 pandemic started. With limited or no government aid, more and more Americans are shoplifting and stealing food – or anything that can help them get through every day.

There are over 20 million unemployed Americans, and hunger is a problem for more than 50 million people in the United States. The areas with high joblessness rates are the ones with high numbers of shoplifting incidents.

Retailers and shop owners are understandably worried about the situation. Many of them have devised ways to protect their shops and bar shoplifters from getting inside. They are also concerned about the income lost to theft and the consequence this can cause on their employees and business.

If you are one of the shop owners significantly affected by theft and shoplifting, it’s time to get protection and support. The first step is to find a good theft lawyer. The next step is to find ways to prevent thieves and shoplifters from stealing from your shop.

II. Tips on How to Deter Shoplifting During COVID-19

A. Change the layout of your store (Improve foot flow)

Basic COVID-19 health and safety protocols require physical distancing. Use this as your guide for changing and optimizing the layout of your store. Widen all the aisles and ensure that they are well-lit. Remove any clutter, as well, so it will be easier for you to notice if anyone is acting strangely or suspiciously.

With wider aisles, you’ll beat two birds with one stone: discouraging shoplifters and following COVID-19 physical distancing protocols.

Another thing you should consider: is to place cashiers or customer checkouts near the entrance and exit of the shop. This will make it easy for you and your staff to spot if someone is shoplifting or hiding an item or two inside their bag or clothes. However, avoid displaying items or merchandise near the entrance and exit areas as this will make it easy for thieves to quickly grab or pick up an item and run to the exit.

B. Organize your store

Tidy up your store every day. All items must be appropriately positioned on the shelves. Make sure that there are no goods or products hidden at the back of the shelves or cabinets. Putting everything where they are easily seen will make it easy for you and your staff to notice missing items or if the inventory is short. Place only enough stock to fill the shelves; nothing more, nothing less.

If your items are well-organized and the shop is tidy and uncluttered, it will be easy to spot if thieves try to steal some stuff from a fully-stocked cabinet or shelf.

C. Identify hotspots of your store/at-risk products or items

Knowing the areas in the store shoplifters frequent is important. If you can, come up with a record of shoplifting and theft incidents in the past. Don’t forget to include vital details such as date and time and the location or specific area of the shop. Doing this will allow you to identify the hotspots in the store and give you an idea of which items are popular with shoplifters.

Small items that are easy to swipe and hide are the usual targets of most shoplifters. They do not target bulky, big, or heavy items because they’re difficult to conceal.

If you know the hotspots and at-risk items in your shop, it will be easy for you to develop defensive strategies. One good example is placing at-risk items inside a locked cabinet, or a high-traffic area with store staff guarding the items, or in any area near the checkout counter.

Likewise, it would be good to add more staff to guard or man these hotspot areas.

D. Train your employees to spot shoplifters

Your employees should know how to identify possible shoplifters as well as how to deal with them. Create a simple training program for your staff, and be sure to incorporate possible situations and scenarios they can easily relate to.

It is also crucial for both you and your staff to familiarize shoplifter tactics and behavior. Here are some things you should take note of:

– People carrying large shopping bags or handbags and other containers; shoplifters also often use foil-lined bags.  

– People wearing extra big or heavy clothing or clothes that are inappropriate for the season, like loose or oversized shirts and jackets.

– People who watch the store staff and constantly check out the CCTV cameras.

– Groups or pairs who enter the store together with one of them creating a scene or drawing attention to distract the staff.

Shoplifters often remove products and claim that they need a refund (even if they didn’t purchase anything). Another shoplifting tactic is changing price tags. 

E. Place mirrors and CCTV/security cameras

If you already have CCTV or security cameras, maybe it’s time to add one or two more. Additional visual security will not only help you spot the shoplifters; it will also help ensure that everyone who goes into your store follows physical distancing guidelines. 

III. Get legal advice

Shoplifting laws vary according to state, so you need to sit down with your lawyer to talk about all the legal matters you need to know. For example, can the thief sue you for civil rights violations even if you are the store owner and you caught him in the act of shoplifting?

Criminal prosecution is still the best way to deter shoplifting. As such, it is vital to always know where and how to get in touch with your lawyer. Also, make sure your customers know your shoplifting policy by placing several signs that indicate shoplifters will be prosecuted. Place these signs in strategic areas around, outside, and inside the store.

If you’re a small business owner looking to hire an attorney regarding shoplifting laws in the state of Arizona, please give the Arizona Criminal Law Team a call today at 480-442-8343 to schedule your free consultation. Or visit our website at for more information.

Related Articles

You may also be interested in

Monthly Newsletter

Law Offices of Mark A. Gallagher

Whether it’s a DUI, domestic violence, suspended license, traffic tickets, or any other criminal matter, the Law Offices of Mark A. Gallagher can help. Schedule your FREE consultation below or call us at 800-797-8406. For more information, visit