Flash mobs have created a new kind of shoplifting where large groups go into a store for the purpose of taking merchandise. These groups can make off with a large amount of high value goods in a short period of time.
These flash mobs aren't like the fun dance parties that are organized via Twitter or Facebook. They have a much darker purpose and can have serious consequences for retailers.
Luckily, there are some low-cost ways to prevent loss while deterring flash mobs and other shoplifters.
Be alert. Notice when large groups of any age enter your store and determine whether they're having fun together or moving with a purpose. If they don't look like they're out to enjoy each other's company keep a close eye on them as they move around the store.
Practice good customer service. It's possible to confront potential shoplifters without being confrontational. If you notice potential shoplifters, greet them and offer to help with their shopping experience. Let them know you're watching without being accusatory.
Act quickly. Calling the police can protect your store but only if the cops arrive in time to catch the suspects. If employees call as soon as they notice a problem, there's a better chance the shoplifters will be stopped.
Create a 'no bags' policy. It's much easier for shoplifters to take more if they can put items in backpacks or large purses. Consider instituting a general policy asking customers to leave large bags at the front of the store while shopping. Consistent enforcement means no group will feel singled out but potential shoplifters won't have a place to stash stolen goods.
Don't give up if shoplifters leave. Just because they make it out the door doesn't mean shoplifters will get away with theft. If you see a group of suspected shoplifters leave the store, make a note their descriptions and see what direction they head in. Knowing the license plate of the car they left in, what they look like, and where they went next makes it more likely that cops will catch flash mob shoplifters.