Safety Signs Blog

A sign that you're not taking theft from your shop lying down

4th April 2011 | Warning Signs

Posted by David Arnold

The Shoplifters will be prosecuted sign remains extremely popular. The question that today’s article poses is why? After all, most people know stealing is a criminal act. With this in mind why do businesses feel the need to reinforce this message with a sign?

Shoplifters will be prosecuted sign

Before considering the sign itself, let us look at how prevalent shoplifting is today in the UK:

A crime survey by the British Retail Consortium found that thefts by customers increased by a third between 2008 and 2009.

In addition violence during a theft is also on the increase. The same study found that violence and verbal abuse rose significantly. At least 22,000 staff in the same timeframe across the UK claimed they had been victims of such abuse by customers.

With the UK set to remain in a period of slow growth at best and a sustained period of high unemployment, shoplifting levels will inevitably remain high. According to Centre for Retail Research in November 2009, shoplifting in the UK is reaching record levels, fuelled by the recession/economic downturn. The value of retail goods stolen rose by 20% to £4.8billion, up until June this year.

Globally, the only countries in the world with a higher value of shoplifted goods are the US and Japan.

According to Checkpoint Systems, who commissioned the report above, there has also been a rise in middle-class shoplifters who have been stealing goods to maintain their standard of living, as opposed to stealing items to sell items on. Some of the most frequently stolen items include cosmetics, perfume, alcohol, fresh meat, mobile phones, DVDs and small electrical goods and gadgets.

The above is how serious shoplifting in the UK is today but why employ the shoplifters will be prosecuted sign?

Of course there are many ways to prevent shoplifting, from security guards to CCTV systems. Whilst these are arguably more effective than a yellow sign, they are not as cost effective. In the same way as the public are feeling the pinch so too are the retailers – especially the smaller ones.

In the minds of many, theft from a shop is not really a crime. After all, the store will be insured against loses won’t it? And if not, the owners of the store are probably better off that me?

What store owners hope is that the sign leaves the would-be criminal in no doubt that this so-called petty act will not just be accepted. If caught, action will be taken against the thief that could give them a criminal record that would blight them for the rest of their lives.

It is a warning sign that has been used in the UK for many years…and will no doubt be used for many years to come, for very good reason. After all, if this sign makes just one person think twice about stealing then it has probably already paid for itself.


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