You can’t prevent every theft, but you can prevent some and limit the amount of loss in others. Most thieves posing as customers shy away from attention and conversation. In the latest losses reported in the jewelry industry, thieves are engaging in significant conversation to gain the trust of the salesperson. In almost every case the salesperson felt there was something wrong, but the dialog and time spent with the thieves made the salesperson second guess themselves. Trust your instincts; they are usually correct.
What should you do if a “customer” seems suspicious?
Certainly, you don’t want to treat a potential customer like a thief. However, you can take steps that a good customer won’t notice or might appreciate, while causing a thief to seek an easier target.
- Lavish the customer with attention. Give your name and ask the customer’s name. Ask whom they are shopping for and the occasion. Inquire about what they do in life, where they live, what they enjoy doing. Be chatty!
- Make mental notes about age, hair and eye color, height and other attributes that may be helpful to police if the customer turns out to be a thief.
- Be prepared with a display pad, loupe, cleaning cloth and any other tools, so you won’t have to turn away from the customer.
- Be mindful of where everyone is in the store.
- Ask a co-worker to assist.
- Have a code word which alerts other staff about your uneasiness. Another staff person should position himself or herself between the showcases and the door. Alternatively, your colleague could walk out the front door with a cell phone in hand and watch – ready to call police if needed. If you are dealing with a thief, this will make him or her think twice.
- Show only one item at a time. If the customer wants to see a second item, put it on your hand or a model for comparison. If the customer does run with the item, you have limited the loss.
- Assure that showcases are locked when not in use.
- If the customer asks to see high value items, escort him or her to a sitting area toward the back of the store, if possible. Ask another associate to bring items and return them to showcases.
- Require identification, such as a driver’s license, to show high value items.
If your customer asks about the identification request or why you are showing only one item at a time, blame your insurance company. We don’t mind.
Be proactive! Develop a plan and execute!