Survey shows Canadian retailers are taking necessary actions to combat theft
By Amanda Ryder
2008 – With the growth of retail organized crime in the Canadian
marketplace, the types of security measures being employed by retailers
are also growing according to a new survey of medium and large
growth of retail organized crime in the Canadian marketplace, the types
of security measures being employed by retailers are also growing
according to a new survey of medium and large retailers.
The survey found that there are many types of criminal activity in
retail stores and that the respondents still expect that the most
likely source of financial losses in future will come from traditional
merchandise theft, both internal and external. The top two identified
were merchandise theft from customers (62 per cent) and merchandise
theft from employees (33 per cent).
"With a focus on the so-called traditional sources of theft will
retailers be prepared to meet the upcoming challenges faced by emerging
technology threats? Only 5 per cent indicate that they expect pin-pad
tampering to be an issue in the future," says Ian Booler, in the
performance and risk practice with PwC in Canada.
Diane J. Brisebois, President and CEO of the Retail Council of Canada
comments, "It is clear from the survey results that there is a need for
government, law enforcement, the courts and the industry itself to
ensure we are working cooperatively to deal with such issues as retail
organized crime and all other forms of loss that retailers are
subjected to."Currently, respondents to the survey indicate that they
are using a wide variety of store security and loss prevention measures
to control store operations. On a positive note there is an increasing
trend of using technology to help prevent theft – a full 100 per cent
of survey respondents use alarm systems and 90 per cent use video
"These options have become a cost effective measure to monitor store
activity – not only for criminal activity, but also for monitoring
internal theft and employee security," says Booler. "The presence of
video surveillance and alarm system measures are complementing
procedural elements: greeters and fitting room attendants working to
prevent theft are being assisted by the 'eye in the sky'".
The survey also shows that there is a correlation between the growing
use of video surveillance to the increasing rate at which offenders are
being prosecuted. Retailers now have the ability to provide law
enforcement agencies with the evidence required to appropriately
prosecute offenders. Those caught stealing can expect that Canadian
retailers will take action. Eighty-five per cent of respondents dismiss
employee offenders with cause, 62 per cent proceed with criminal
charges against the employee and 80% pursue criminal charges against
"It is clear from the survey results that retailers are backing-up
their policies with the appropriate actions to show the public and
their staff that such activity will not be tolerated," Brisebois says.
Survey respondents indicate that retailers can reduce their risk of losses by using simple internal control measures:
-91 per cent perform pre-employment screening before hiring new staff
-71 per cent rotate employee's duties, where possible, in their stores
-86 per cent avoid having employees work alone in their stores
-100 per cent provide training and training materials to employees on store policies specifically related to theft prevention
"It was interesting to see that 48 per cent of respondents said they
require new employees to undergo a police background check as part of
the hiring process," says Brisebois, "This is a clear indication of the
industry's concerns over risks of internal theft residing within
today's retail environment."
Although 100 per cent of respondents indicated they provided training
and materials to store staff on theft prevention, 86% said they would
be interested in receiving additional training information and
materials related to loss prevention.
"Retailers are fortifying their control environment," says Booler.
"However, typical control measures such as counting inventory are not
being performed as frequently as would be expected for a retail market
that is most susceptible to merchandise theft. Criminal diversity
describes the incredible challenge facing the mid to large retail
segment in Canada. Street gangs, technology based crime, and
traditional theft must be prioritized to ensure that losses are
minimized and shrink rates remain within the industry norms."