Reducing Shoplifting in Oregon Businesses


Larceny is defined as taking goods from a business or owner of the property without consent, and intends to permanently deprive them of it. Unlike robbery, it does not include force or the threat of force. Shoplifting is one common form of larceny. In Oregon, shoplifting constituted 22.8% of all larceny offenses in 2015.

According to Oregon’s National Incident Based Reporting System (ONIBRS), shoplifting accounted for $1,329,635 in stolen merchandise during 2015. Of that, less than half that value — $598,256 was recovered. The value lost is a blow to business owners and burdens the criminal justice system with increased investigations and cases.

While shoplifting is an ongoing concern, here are a few simple tips that business owners can use to reduce shoplifting in their stores.

Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED)

Shoplifting can be prevented through a business’s physical layout and lighting. Increased visibility and ability to observe coupled with minimal hidden areas results in decreased shoplifting occurrences. If a business is dark and the layout creates unobservable areas, shoplifters will be more likely to target areas of the store which can’t be seen from the cash register. The concept behind prevention through environmental design is to inhibit shoplifters before even stepping on the premises.

Place the register near the entrance/exit of the store for easy observation and identification. Being aware of who is inside and outside of a business is critical to preventing shoplifting. This also makes for better customer service and interaction with customers as they enter and exit the store.

An additional option is keeping the shelves organized, and aisles evenly lit. This will help with inventory upkeep as well as make it easier to notice when something is amiss.

Use convex mirrors in the corners of low-visibility areas to better see the entire business from any location. Add an alert, such as a bell, at the entrance/exit as an added precaution in case other tasks involve being away from the register. This will help identify when people are walking in and out of the store even when staff can’t observe them.

Evidence-Based Policing (EBP)

Recently, law enforcement is utilizing research to discover which methods are best for reducing crime in the community. EBP focuses efforts and resources on the most promising strategies to increase effectiveness as well as keep expenses to a minimum.

This is done by leveraging localized research and data gained over time by law enforcement and the community for interpretation and visualization. The resulting identifiable information can guide tactics used by law enforcement agencies.

To prevent Oregon’s shoplifting, police have the ability to map out areas through EBP in which shoplifting occurs more frequently; thus exposing targets that may need more police presence. They can also interpret patterns and predict where shoplifting may occur in the future.

Reducing Shoplifting in Oregon

CPTED and EBP are effective preventative measures against shoplifting. However, they do not happen on their own. These practices require law enforcement professionals who can communicate with the community and use new policing methods to increase the safety of Oregon’s citizens and businesses.

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Criminal Justice in the Community: Challenges & Opportunities
Factors that Affect Criminal Behavior
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