The 3 most common shoplifting techniques


Article 1, of a 2 Part Series. Read article 2 here: 4 Key shoplifting prevention strategies


ShopliftingThe bane of every retailer's existence, a game of wits where sneaky individuals try to walk out the door with merchandise they haven't paid for. 


In this 1st article of a 2 piece series, we're going to dive into the world of shoplifting tactics simply summing it up in three types, then, in the 2nd article of the series (link above), we will arm you with effective strategies to prevent it.


female shoplifter


  1. Concealment Techniques:

Concealment techniques can vary from the classic bagging technique, where stolen items are sneakily stashed in personal bags or cleverly hidden within clothing, to the audacious act of box stuffing—opening packages and slipping goodies inside. Here we summarize them for your analysis:

  1. Bagging: Placing stolen items in personal bags, backpacks, or clothing.
  2. Box stuffing: Opening packages and concealing items inside.
  3. Body concealment: Hiding merchandise under clothing, in pockets, or using specially designed concealment devices.


  1. Distraction Techniques:

Shoplifters aren't just experts in sleight of hand; they've got the gift of gab too! Imagine a dynamic duo working together, creating a circus of distractions while their partner-in-crime stealthily swipes merchandise. And don't forget the masters of deception who fake emergencies or stir up commotions to divert attention away from their sticky fingers. Then there are those who innocently ask for help, drawing store employees into lengthy conversations while their nimble fingers work their magic in the shadows. Below you can read concisely about how shoplifters can distract store employees to achieve their end.

  1. Teamwork: Working in pairs or groups to create distractions for store staff.
  2. False emergencies: Pretending to be in distress or causing a commotion to divert attention.
  3. Asking for help: Distracting employees by engaging them in lengthy conversations or requesting assistance in one area while stealing in another.


male shoplifter with backpack



  1. Manipulation Techniques:

Shoplifters have mastered the art of manipulation, employing tactics that would make even the smoothest con artists blush. They'll brazenly swap price tags, making a pair of designer jeans ring up as "bargain bin" material. And those pesky security devices? Shoplifters have found ways to deactivate them, using magnets or other devilish contraptions to slip by undetected. Oh, and let's not forget about return fraud, where stolen items are brazenly brought back for cash or store credit. Sneaky, huh?, and we can summarize they way they do it as follows:

  1. Price tag swapping: Switching price tags to pay a lower amount for an item.
  2. Deactivating security devices: Using magnets or other methods to disable clothing security tags.


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