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shield between the line of sight of people

stole to order had a ready market for

or cameras and the goods to be stolen.

sales. Few thieves worried about

Some thieves make use of distraction

getting caught once they had left the

techniques, and there are a few,

store, underlining once again that not

including accomplices creating a scene

only can the store create an

to attract attention away from the person

environment which is less conducive to

doing the stealing. Some argued that

theft, but that if it does not, few thieves

they would collude with insiders. Working

see impediments once they’ve passed

on inside knowledge always made things

the exit gates. Some do occasionally

easier especially if the insider was able

get caught, but this appears to be rare.

to provide insights into security measures that didn’t work or could be


rendered ineffective.

What this article has hopefully shown is that it is possible to assess the

Leaving the store

decision making process of offenders in

As noted above, the escape is a vital part

a way that can be helpful for crime

of the theft. Stealing goods is one thing,

prevention. By focussing on the key

getting away is another, and more

points at which shoplifters make

important.The key to a successful

important decisions, we can assess

getaway starts with having avoided

what they consider important at these

“Some thieves make use of distraction techniques, and there are a few, including accomplices creating a scene to attract attention away from the person doing the stealing. Some argued

that they would collude with insiders.”

three times a day on average, every single day for two years and had only been

attracting attention at an earlier stage,

stages or what they do or need to try

caught four times.The main techniques

particularly in concealing the goods.The

and do to steal successfully.This gives

they used, involve moving quickly and

ideal exit strategy involves blending in

us clues as to how we might weight

swiftly reducing the chance that anyone

with customers, so that the thief is not

their decision making process so that

who happened to be watching would

noticed. Some offenders purchased

they don’t steal or are not successful. It

notice anything untoward. Others use

goods as they exited to appear as if they

will need carefully crafted security

sleight of hand, and in a variety of ways.

were behaving normally, and it also gave

measures that influence specific

For example, a thief may handle various

them a chance to check and see

decision making decisions which

items on the shelf but secretly conceal

whether anyone was watching. Some

requires skill.

one and rearrange others to disguise the

noted that the check-out provided cover

missing item.They may use a trolley or

and so they were able to steal while

example of how research on offenders

basket and hide smaller goods under

leaving, sometimes this was helped by an

can help inform security strategies.There

bigger ones which they steal when they

accomplice creating a distraction.

are many other issues beyond what is

This research is just one limited

discussed here, but the fact of the

are in a blind spot. Indeed, thieves often make use of blind spots, some of which

Disposing of the goods

matter is that there is limited research

occur in the store and some they create,

Clearly, goods have to be sold. As

available and that for sure has limited

by for example, using their body as a

noted many used a fence, others who

how effective security strategies can be.

*The author is Professor Martin Gill who is Managing Director of Perpetuity Research and Consultancy International. For more details of this study, and others on security, visit the Perpetuity website, Martin is contactable by email at


Security Insider June 2010  
Security Insider June 2010  

Bi-Monthly SecurityI ndustry Magazine published by Australia's Largest Security Industry Organisation - ASIAL. Designed by Martin at Webfx2...