Retail month: how to protect your business from crime

Protect your retail business from crime

This February we are putting a spotlight on safeguarding your retail business as part of our Safer Business, Stronger Scotland campaign.

The Scottish Business Resilience Centre works closely with retail businesses to help them keep their operations secure.

Here is a list of examples of the types of crimes to look out for and how to combat them.


Shoplifting is a common crime committed against retail business. It involves stock being stolen by a thief posing as a customer. It may be committed by individuals or organised groups.

Money fraud

Money fraud is when criminals use an illegal method to pay for goods. This may include counterfeit cash, stolen bank/credit cards. 

Checkout fraud

Checkout fraud includes a number of tactics where criminals avoid paying in full for goods when paying at the tills. Examples include swapping barcodes or price stickers for a less expensive item or deliberately failing to swipe a product  at a self-checkout.  

Refund fraud

Refund fraud is another crime that can happen at the till. It can take the form of an offender attempting to return a stolen item in exchange for money or credit, or falsifying receipts.

Breaking and entering 

Break-ins are a common crime committed against retail stores, usually when the shop is closed. These ‘smash and grab’ crimes involve forcing entry and stealing merchandise. 


Vandalism is also a risk for retail businesses. It could include graffiti, smashed windows or damaged signs.

Online scams

With many brands now selling their products digitally, online scams are a big risk for retailers, particularly those who sell online or hold customer data digitally. They could become a victim of online fraud or cyber security breaches.  

Retail business security measures

  • One of the first things to consider is your premises security. Taking steps to secure your retail premises can help protect against vandalism, burglary and other crimes. You should carry out a premises security survey to assess your environment and reduce opportunities for crime.
  • Measures you might take include alarm systems, security lighting or shutters. 
  • For added money security, reduce the risk of cash theft by reducing the amount of money you keep in your till and on premises.
  • Help to prevent payment fraud by checking for counterfeit notes, using a secure chip and pin system, if the pin doesn’t work and they ask for a manual process, check the signature and the name on the card carefully. If you are ever in any doubt, you should inform your line manager.
  • Measures to prevent theft may include regular stock checks, locked cabinets for high value items and CCTV.
  • Check new employee references thoroughly and have procedures in place to prevent theft by staff. Look out for suspicious behaviour to identify shoplifters.
  • If you hold sensitive information digitally, in is important to manage the risks of a cyberattack.  Common measures to keep your business safe online include strong passphrases, firewalls and security software.
  • As a retail business, you should ensure that your point-of-sale system is as secure as possible. If you sell online, you could be particularly at risk of online scams, malware and viruses. 

If you have a retail business and would like to find out how SBRC can help safeguard your organisation, drop us an email at: [email protected]

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