Types of Shoplifters

Shoplifting is often considered as a professional hazard of “doing business” in the Retail Sector. As a retailer focusing on the problem of what’s known in the industry as loss prevention, you basically should have an understanding of who these shoplifters are & methods at your disposal to slow the shoplifters down.

The main types of customers who indulge in shoplifting are:

1. Non-Professional Shoplifters

2. Professional Shoplifters

Non-Professional Shoplifters:


Many shop thieves are not regular thieves, but are influenced by opportunities such as easily accessible display areas, or goods left unattended on counters.

Persistent Thieves

Many thieves steal regularly - every day or every week perhaps. They mix genuine purchases with some stolen goods and may be some of your oldest or most trusted customers. Do not take anyone for granted.


Young people can be influenced by peer pressure to steal. This can be part of a ‘group syndrome’ where young people only steal when they are together. They tend to steal such items as Electronic Games, Mobile Accessories, CDs and Fashion Goods.

Thieves who use children

Some family teams make use of children to steal items (in order to avoid convictions) or to cause a distraction that will conceal the theft.

Drug Abusers

Many shop thieves steal to support a drug habit, that costs them a few dollars a week. They often see shop theft as the easiest way to raise money.


This is a technique where a large gang will enter a shop and intimidate, threaten or distract staff in order to steal large quantities of goods before running off. It is dangerous to tackle these people, as they are likely to resort to violence.

Staff Collusion

Sometimes shop staff help thieves to steal, either actively, or by turning a blind eye to what is going on. Thieves may pay the member of staff to co-operate with them, or they may intimidate them into doing so.

Professional Shoplifters

Professional thieves target high value goods, and often steal a number of items e.g. entire racks of clothes at one time. They often work in teams passing the goods through several pairs of hands before they are eventually taken away. Some gangs also employ ‘minders’ to protect them.


Nilesh Shah nileshshah@rancelab.com Over 10 years of experience in the field of software development, sales and marketing. He has assisted over 500 Retailers and Restaurateurs in implementing the Retail and F&B software with barcode & pos hardware for their business. He holds a designation of Director, Marketing in Rance Computer Pvt Ltd. He holds the certification from Microsoft Corporation and NIS. His current research focuses on developing and implementing intelligent retail systems...

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