Plastic bag ban 'a boon to shoplifters'

July 2003 News

The banning of plastic bags has come as a boon to shoplifters who are using the lack of control afforded by the bags to steal on a dramatically increased scale, says Jenny Reid, managing director of South Africa's oldest corporate security company, GriffithsReid.

"Our clients and contacts in the retail sector indicate that shoplifting could well have tripled since the banning of plastic bags," says Reid, whose corporate clients include some of the largest retailers in the country. The lack of bags means that shop security can no longer seal bags upon an individual's entry to a shop premises, and also are faced with the near-impossible task of checking every single shopper's carry bag, handbag or other bag upon exiting the shop.

"This is why some shops are being hit particularly hard, with gangs of up to 40 shoplifters moving in and simultaneously stealing on order for syndicates," Reid says. Very often these gangs heavily outnumber store security staff, who might catch one or two, but who are powerless to stop the mass of criminals.

"Other bulk or trade retailers, who have never used plastic bags, have avoided the problem by selling most of their items in bulk and forcing each shopper to be checked against their receipt upon leaving the premises," Reid says. In conventional supermarkets, this is impracticable because of the single nature of the items purchased, and the sheer quantity of people moving through the premises.

"The only answer to the problem is for shops to step back and consider their security solution in total, instead of trying to piecemeal address isolated issues," Reid says. This entails evaluating the entire selling cycle from shelf to shopper to checkout till to exit - and ensuring that steps are in place at every point in that cycle which reduces the possibility of loss, she concludes.

For more information contact Jenny Reid, GriffithsReid, 011 786 8556, reid@icon.co.za





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