As Thefts Continue, Retailers Lock Goods Away

While last year’s wave of retail theft seems to have abated somewhat, retailers say shoplifting attempts are still higher than before the pandemic.

That’s according to a Tuesday (Sept. 27) report by The Wall Street Journal, which says retailers such as Best Buy and Home Depot have taken to locking away more items to prevent thefts.

The report points to the example of a suburban Houston Best Buy where many items — such as Fitbit trackers and Bose speakers — were replaced with signs shoppers, “This product telling kept in secured location,” directing them to seek help from employees.

See also: From Bullet-Proof Glass to eCommerce Shift, Crime Spree Spawns Rethink on Retail

Home Depot, meanwhile, has been locking up more products in the last year as it tests more higher-tech and customer-friendly measures, the company said.

“It’s a triage-type scenario,” said Scott Glenn, Home Depot vice president of asset protection. “It’s ‘Stop the bleeding and give yourself some time.’”

He added that Home Depot is seeing more theft attempts than before the pandemic. The company recognizes that customers don’t like seeing products locked away and tries to avoid it. However, Glenn argues that when a high-theft item is locked up, sales rise as the store stays in stock more consistently.

Representatives from Home Depot and Best Buy were not immediately available for comment Tuesday.

Learn more: As ‘Smash and Grab’ Spate Continues, Retail CEOs Turn to Congress for Help

Last year saw a rise in organized “smash and grab” style robberies at retailers around the country, leading the CEOs of companies such as Best Buy, Target, and AutoZone to turn to Congress for help.

“While we constantly invest in people, policies and innovative technology to deter theft, criminals are capitalizing on the anonymity of the internet and the failure of certain marketplaces to verify their sellers,” the Retail Industry Leaders Association said in an open letter sent to House and Senate leadership.

“This trend has made retail businesses a target for increasing theft, hurt legitimate businesses that are forced to compete against unscrupulous sellers, and greatly increased consumer exposure to unsafe and dangerous counterfeit products,” the letter added.

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