Vail Daily column: Be on lookout for shoplifters |

Vail Daily column: Be on lookout for shoplifters

The holiday season is upon us and, unfortunately, so is shoplifting season. Studies have shown that, in the United States, as many as one in 12 customers is a shoplifter, and that shoplifters commit an average of 50 thefts before being caught. Many Vail retailers have new employees on hand for the season and it is a good idea to train your staff to recognize the signs of shoplifting. The Vail Chamber and Business Association is here to help the retail community deter shoplifting by coordinating shoplift prevention workshops with the Vail Police beginning the week of Jan. 6. The workshops will run 45 minutes and cover topics such as common tactics of shoplifters, how to identify and handle employee theft, credit card and check fraud, counterfeit money and steps to take when you are victimized. For more information, please watch for the weekly VCBA News in Vail. You can receive it by emailing the chamber at In the interim, here are some best practices for protecting your business from shoplifting:

Educate Your Staff

Educate your staff to be extra alert when the store is crowded as shoplifters like work when salespeople are busy with legitimate customers. Employees should also be aware of distraction tactics used by shoplifting teams such as loud complaining, staging a faint, or knocking over merchandise by one perpetrator while their partner in crime is doing the lifting. Other signs to look for in shoplifters include nervous behavior, avoiding eye contact, wandering the store aimlessly, leaving and returning repeatedly, hanging out in hard-to-see areas or watching the staff.

Look for TellTale Signs

In addition to training frontline sales people to look for telltale signs of shoplifting, shop owners can use several tactics to discourage theft. Arranging your fixtures so as to minimize blind spots on the sales floor and installing mirrors to enable salespeople to see over and around displays is an easy way to deter theft. Also make sure your staff monitors fitting rooms closely. Keep the fitting room door locked when not in use and have your staff open the room for each customer. Make sure your staff is aware of how many items a person is taking into the fitting room and keep the room free of clutter and places to discard labels and price tags. Another effective theft deterrent is to alternate clothing hanger directions on display racks. Alternating the direction of your hangers inhibits the ability of the hit-and-run thieves to grab multiple clothing items and run and is especially important near store exits. Posting signs warning against shoplifting and emphasizing your willingness to prosecute is another effective and inexpensive preventive measure.

Invest in a Security Cameras

More capital intensive but highly effective measures for discouraging shoplifting include security cameras and Electronic Article Surveillance, which is a tag system that triggers an alarm as it passes sensors near shop exits. If the cost of these systems is prohibitive, then consider empty camera domes and inactive EAS tags as shoplifters will recognize the equipment as actively in use.

If you or your staff suspects that someone may be considering lifting something, then approach the person and ask, “Can I ring that up for you?” Most importantly, call the police on every shoplifter and prosecute all thieves. In the shoplifters’ minds, if you don’t call the police, they win, and they will continue to hit your store again and again.

Content in this article was obtained from Internet postings by shoplifter-turned-loss-prevention-specialist Mike Delaney, the City of Anderson Police Department, and the Los Angeles Police Department.

If you are interested in finding out more about Merry in the Mountains and Breakthrough Leadership, or if you just want to stay informed about all of the great things happening in Vail and Beaver Creek this season, then please check in with the Vail Chamber and Business Association. If you are not already receiving our weekly e-newsletter, then email us at If you are interested in finding out more about the VCBA and what we have to offer to businesses in and that do business in Vail, then call 970-477-0075. Our office is located on the top level of the Vail Transportation Center, so please stop in and say hello.

Paul Wible is the executive vice president at 1stBank Vail. He is a board member of the Vail Chamber and Business Association.

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