June 7, 2023

Shoplifters cause billions in damage

Shoplifters cause billions in damage

According to industry estimates, half of the damage was caused by shoplifters. But the company’s own employees and suppliers also put in a lot of effort. All in all, the retail trade has lost around one percent of its total sales through so-called inventory differences, according to a study published on tuesday by the retail research institute EHI in colonia.

Small, relatively expensive items that are easy to hide are popular prey, explains frank horst, head of EHI’s inventory differences department. In drugstores and grocery stores, thieves like to grab perfume, cosmetics, razor blades or batteries. In electronics stores it’s console games, cds or dvds, in the textile trade it’s fashionable brand-name articles, jeans and lingerie.

The thieves’ methods are varied: there are bags with double bottoms; specially lined materials trick beeping security systems at the entrance; in the changing room, worn clothes are simply exchanged for new ones.

Among the thieves are many casual offenders, and especially in large cities drug addicts finance their addiction through theft. However, organized gangs are a particular concern for the managers. "They are professionally equipped and usually enter the store with several perpetrators," explains rolf geckle, who heads the "mascara" investigation group on gang-related shoplifting at the karlsruhe police department. The groups concentrate on high-value items that can be easily resold. Sometimes they rob an entire shelf of razor blades or cosmetics, so that the damage can quickly run into four figures.

According to police crime statistics, shoplifting has been on the decline for years. In 2011, the number of registered traps fell again slightly by 0.6 percent to around 385,000. But the dark figure is extremely high, at 98 percent according to EHI estimates, and inventory discrepancies have even increased somewhat compared to 2010.

Although retailers invest around 1.2 billion euros a year in security measures such as cameras, employee training, detectives and merchandise security, the problem is difficult to get to grips with, says horst. Because thieves are always inventing new tricks – and technical means of prevention and additional personnel are expensive. "It’s always a calculating game for traders: you need a certain level of security, but it can’t cost too much."


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