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You may be aware of the problems that most retailers face in combating theft in shops and stores on a daily basis. lt is estimated that it costs the retail industry in the UK over £1 billion per year.

Sadly, being a charity does not protect us from theft and we experience the same problems as other retailers.

Of course, the real problem is that all this prevents us from providing funds for our charity projects.

How can I prevent theft? 

This section is all about how you can play a part to help reduce these figures by reducing the risk of theft. 

Offer great customer service 

Being available on the sales floor and ready to help is a powerful deterrent to shoplifters. Maintaining a vigilant presence will deter potential shoplifters and allow you to assist genuine customers with friendly, helpful and expert customer service. 

Observe policies and procedures 

By following the Little Lives UK policies and procedures you will play your part in ensuring that the business operates safely and efficiently. If you feel there is a security issue within your shop or you have any concerns, you should raise them as soon as possible. 

Deterring theft on the shop floor

Shoplifters will steal whenever they see an opportunity. However, there are certain times throughout the trading day when we are more vulnerable:

▪ When you are focused on a task 
▪ When you are serving other customers 
▪ When someone distracts you 
▪ When there are less people on the shop floor

Recognising the behaviours

So, who steals from us? It could be anybody. It is important to remember that it is not what someone looks like that makes them stand out but rather the things they say and how they behave.

Warning signs 

You will often notice certain signs when people are looking for an opportunity to steal. They may: 

▪ Avoid direct eye contact 
▪ Be watching you rather than the product 
▪ Watch the cash desk area 
▪ Appear nervous or agitated 
▪ Exaggerate their movements 
▪ May try to distract you if they are working with an accomplice.

How Do Shoplifters Steal?

Shoplifters may use some of these methods to steal:

▪ Use a pram or trolley to conceal the items 
▪ Drop an item behind a display out of sight 
▪ Move an item closer to the door and pick up later 
▪ Place small items up their sleeves 
▪ Wear large coats or carry large bags to hide products 
▪ Work in pairs to create a distraction

Prevention is better than detection

Remember that thieves look for any opportunity and are much less likely to steal where the staff and the team are alert and vigilant.

You can help:

▪ By acknowledging customers, you are making them aware you have noticed them. 
▪ By giving good customer service, you will help to deter thieves as well as increase sales


If you are unsure of a situation always call for assistance, using a code word is a good way to alert the team.


▪ Try to detain a shoplifter 
▪ Follow a shoplifter 
▪ Put yourself at risk

Deterring theft on the shop floor

Be aware of the following techniques they may use:

▪ Swapping tickets between cheaper and more expensive items 
▪ Putting on layers of clothing 
▪ Concealing garments 
▪ Swapping their own clothes with Little Lives UK items and wearing them.

Working at the cash desk

All staff, volunteers and work experience placements must complete the Cash Desk training before they use the till.

Handling Difficult Situations

The safety of our staff and volunteers come first. People are far more important than stock or money so never be tempted to ‘have a go ‘and put yourself at risk. Make your shop a safe place to work by:

▪ Having at least two people on the sales floor 
▪ Ensuring that the internal phone/intercom is working 
▪ Having clear sight lines and keep the door to the back areas closed 
▪ Using a code word to alert team members if you have a problem 
▪ Being friendly and helpful can go a long way to diffuse a situation 
▪ Staying calm, remain polite, continue to listen and step back to gain space 
▪ Always call for help to assist with difficult situations 
▪ Checking if your shop has links with other retailers to tackle theft 
▪ Varying your route to the bank and carrying a mobile phone (authorised staff).

Bullying and Harassment

We have a set of internal policies that state we do not tolerate bullying or harassment. Any incidents involving staff, volunteers, work experience placements or van crew will be treated seriously, and can be reported in confidence.

Policies and Procedures

It is important that all members of the team are clear about the policies and procedures that we follow in our shop.

Personal belongings

▪ All personal property, including cash, mobile phones and bags must be placed in a secured locker 
▪ No cash or bags can be kept at the cash desk 
▪ Lockers must be cleared at the end of your shift 
▪ The Little Lives UK is not liable for personal losses.

Behind the scenes 

▪ Challenge all visitors and ask for ID
▪ Visitors must be signed in and out from the fire register 
▪ No persons apart from the shop team, van drivers or authorised stock collectors (rag/un-saleable stock) may enter the back areas

Stock items 

▪ All stock donated or new is the property of Little Lives UK 
▪ No saleable stock may leave the shop/warehouse without full payment
▪ Process must be followed for the movement of stock between shops to provide an audit trail 
▪ Unsaleable stock (but not unsafe or prohibited) may be sold to the shop team. It should be priced at minimum using the current price guide and go through the correct till procedure with no discount applied 
▪ All staff, volunteers, work experience placements, and van crews are subject to random searches of lockers, bags and vehicles 
▪ We may undertake covert surveillance using CCTV where deemed appropriate to aid security investigations. 


All passwords and log in details should be kept secure to avoid inappropriate use. 

Staff discount 

▪ Staff and volunteers are entitled to a discount of 50% on donated goods only 
▪ All purchases must be approved by an authorised person and processed through the till as a staff or volunteer purchase 
▪ The authorised person cannot be the purchaser 
▪ If no discount is given the items must still be processed as a staff/volunteer purchase 
▪ The 50% discount on donated goods is only for staff and volunteers or their immediate family.

Now that you have completed the Security Section 

Here are some points and questions for you to go through with your trainer: 

1. Read the ‘Security Notice’ on the health and safety board 

2. Read the ‘Your Safety Matters ‘poster 

3. What actions could you take to deter someone from stealing? 

4. Why is it important to lock your belongings away? 

5. What is the procedure if a team member wants to purchase unsaleable stock?