All eyes on retail: effective strategies to prevent theft

Loss prevention and asset protection teams need to increase their situational awareness in order to be successful.

Last Updated:
June 6, 2023
| ~
min Read
Sarah Paxton
Marketing Writer

According to a recent survey by, in 2022, small businesses reported a 54% increase in shoplifting. Additionally, Target reported $1.3 billion in losses from theft and organized crime in the first quarter of 2023.

Could Target have prevented such huge losses? Retailers nationwide are wondering how to improve loss prevention security and what retail loss prevention systems are most effective. Any business would be devastated by losses of that magnitude. 

According to the National Retail Federation, businesses with security systems are 300% less likely to be burglarized than those without. Additionally, businesses with security systems are 50% less likely to be vandalized. 

First, it’s important to know the five basic parts of loss prevention security. Each works to prevent and decrease retail theft, fraud, and misplacement losses. 

The five basic elements of loss prevention security

#1 Develop loss prevention policies

#2 Know where theft is occurring

#3 Selecting product protection devices

#4 Identify and secure property

#5 Employee education

The National Retail Federation recently interviewed Juliette Jayyem, senior lecturer and faculty director at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and author of the book, “The Devil Never Sleeps.” She discussed the best retail loss prevention systems and loss prevention security.

Her best tip? 

Build situational awareness.

“Bad things are going to happen,” she said. “Focus attention on the commonalities across those bad things and take action to shore them up ahead of the ‘boom.’ Don’t have a single point of failure. Be sure you have a plan for communications. Be transparent. Build your situational awareness.”

The most important lesson she hoped to share is the importance of situational awareness. She emphasized knowing what’s happening in real-time and investing in loss prevention security before the subsequent loss occurs, not analyzing what happened after the fact.

Improving situational awareness does not have to be complicated. In fact, it can be improved using what every physical retail location has: a parking lot. For example, a recent study that deployed parking lot security cameras to a nationwide retailer, resulted in a 40 to 70% reduction in break-ins, violent crimes, loitering, vandalism, and other incidents.

But situational awareness is more than just putting cameras in a parking lot. It’s the ability to perceive, process, and comprehend the elements of your environment. This includes time, space, and other people. It is the ability to understand what is happening around you and how it affects you.

Situational awareness is the ultimate sensory processing experience. It covers a vast number of variables. Situational awareness is used in driving, sports, and the military. It can also be helpful in everyday life and go unnoticed. Humans use situational awareness when crossing the street or walking in a crowded area. 

Sometimes our brains know we’re doing it, and sometimes we don’t. But it’s similar to preparing for a football game. The week before a game, coaches watch footage of their opponent and study their plays. Retailers can do the same to reduce theft. Study footage, evaluate past losses, and improve situational awareness to deter thieves.

Thankfully businesses aren’t left alone to improve their situational awareness. 

Upgrade situational awareness

In minutes, humans and businesses can upgrade situational awareness using high-tech, intelligent security solutions. Old hardwire cameras, complex installations, long lead times, and large fences are no longer needed. Companies can stop the bad guys with one powerful loss-prevention mobile security monitoring solution.

These mobile units are like having a permanent security guard with 360-degree vision on staff, without the personnel and employee headaches. Technology provides an instant boost to prevent retail losses.

In addition to day/night HD camera views, mobile security units eliminate concerns for retailers in a few other amazing ways. They feature a quick setup, operate free of hard wiring, and do not need a cell signal. The powerful units can capture even the most minor identifying features at any time. These include things like faces, tattoos, license plates, and vehicle makes and models. The footage can be preserved and turned over to authorities if necessary.

Lighting and audio alerts are also available to protect businesses in any urban or rural location. Businesses are freed from having to keep up to date with the latest security tech and trends.

Here are some other statistics on the benefits of using an intelligent security system to prevent retail theft:

  • Businesses with security systems are 25% less likely to be the victim of a robbery
  • Businesses with security systems are 15% less likely to be the victim of employee theft 

Remote security solutions for retail loss prevention quickly integrate into most retail loss prevention systems. Situational awareness improvements for businesses include documenting and monitoring property to detect theft. It also helps with increased visibility of customer, employee, and vendor activities, communications, analyzing past data, and taking preventative measures to keep people and merchandise safe. They’re all pieces of a strategy that works.

Five ways technology improves loss prevention security

#1 Monitors the environment. This includes tracking vehicles, pedestrians, traffic, perimeters, and interior spaces or locations with limited visibility. It also includes having the right equipment installed or onsite (as in the case of mobile security units). Security equipment may consist of day/night cameras, PA audio alerts, invisible barriers, lighting, and the ability to contact emergency personnel when a situation arises quickly. 

#2 Analyzes past data. Businesses can evaluate where and how losses have occurred in the past to identify trends and patterns. This can help anticipate changes and make more informed security decisions.

#3 Communicates security to those onsite. Increased visibility of security has been shown to reduce crime significantly. Using a mobile unit in the parking lot or inside a warehouse is an intimidating sight for any would-be thief. In addition to high-tech security, employees can feel protected and managers can have the right tools to monitor their property day. Employees, customers, and suppliers can easily see the location is under close watch with a mobile security unit. If action is required, the authorities can be quickly contacted.

#4 Stays up-to-date on technology. Partner with a mobile security company that specializes in advanced loss-prevention security systems. This ensures retailers access the best tools, data, hardware, and software to protect against retail losses.

#5 Proactive solutions. Businesses should take action now. They should be proactive, learn from past losses, and identify solutions to make better, more informed decisions.

Improving situational awareness and retail loss security systems will become more critical as consumers are increasingly strained. Not only can improving retail security benefit the bottom line, better security can lead to improved sleep, reduced stress, and increased productivity. 

Rest easy with another set of eyes on your property. Increase situational awareness day and night.

Contact LVT for a demo today.

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