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Retail crime

Retail crime, which includes shoplifting and employee theft, costs Canadian retailers $3.6 billion per year, according to the Retail Council of Canada. Dishonest employees and shoplifters can be a huge drain on a business. This section includes resources for understanding and dealing with retail crime. You can also learn more about shoplifting and employee theft on the CBC’s DocZone website.


The National Association for Shoplifting Prevention in the U.S. reports that one in 11 people is a shoplifter, and that men and women are equally likely to shoplift. Approximately 25% of shoplifters are children and teenagers, while the remaining 75% are adults. Though there is no standard shoplifter profile, store staff should keep an eye on individuals who:

  • spend more time watching the cashier or sales clerk than shopping.
  • wear bulky clothing or coats when unnecessary.
  • walk with short steps, which may indicate that they are concealing items.
  • take several items into the dressing room and only leave with one item.
  • seem nervous and possibly pick up random items with no interest.
  • frequently enter the store and never make a purchase.
  • go into the dressing room or rest room with merchandise and exit with none.

It is also important to watch large groups entering the store at one time, especially teenagers. This tactic is often used to distract sales staff by having one person cause a disturbance in the store, while the others shoplift.

Find out more about shoplifting and how to design your store to prevent it.

Employee theft

Employee theft occurs when an employee steals money, supplies, food or merchandise on the job. According to a survey conducted by the Retail Council of Canada with its 40,000 members, employee theft was reported in 95% of businesses in 2007. Reliance Protectron offers this advice for curbing employee theft at your business:

  • Make all your employees aware of the financial damage caused by theft. This is the first and best defense against internal theft
  • If your company is a sales or retail-oriented business, be sure there are always at least two employees to open and close the establishment.
  • Assign numbered or controlled keys stamped "do not duplicate" before distributing them to employees.
  • Use an entrance and exit management system with access cards rather than keys. Access cards are more difficult to reproduce and certain systems can record your employees' entries and exits.
  • Install a digital video security system. It allows remote video surveillance of your employees at all times, no matter where you are. This is a very effective tool for control and deterrence.

Find out more about employee theft and what it means for your business.