6 min read

By Aishat Momoh. O.

Shoplifting is the theft of goods/items from an open retail outlet, usually by concealing a store item on one’s person, in pockets, underclothing, or in a bag, and then leaving the store without paying.

In some cases with clothing, shoplifters may put on items from the store and leave the store wearing the clothes.

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Shoplifters also pretend to be customers, meanwhile, their aim is to steal.

For retailers, particularly supermarkets, shoplifting is a big problem. The rising cases of shoplifting in major supermarkets is taking a heavy toll on profitability.

It is difficult to estimate how much operators in the Nigerian retail sector lose to shoplifting annually because of the country’s poor record-keeping culture.

Hotjist.com visited some supermarkets and mini marts in Lagos to find out how shoplifting is affecting their profitability.

Cases of shoplifting is known to always rise during holiday seasons, which includes festive periods, and public holidays. During this period, stores are typically very busy.

According to Mr Eze, a supervisor at a supermarket in Lagos, he said, “shoplifting increases during busy hours like weekends, afternoons and near closing hours when staff of supermarkets are very busy and are less likely to be bothered with petty theft and shoplifting. This makes it simpler for items and goods to be stolen without a trace until when it’s time to balance the account for the day.”

The most common target of shoplifters are small items that can be easily hidden without being noticed.

Speaking with a staff of another supermarket along Okota road, Lagos. She said, “majority of the Shoplifters are amateurs and children. For the adults, when they are caught, they pretend like they are not normal or they are having a problem, but then, we are not running a charity organisation.

“When we find out, we collect the items from them and ask them to leave but, in a case where the item has been tampered with, they either pay for it or someone else pays on their behalf.”

“Off course, we have security cameras, but they can never be enough in the case of shoplifting, that is why we have security personnel at every section of the store”, she added.

At another grocery store along Iyana-Itire, Lagos, the story is the same. The sales representative, Mr. Abiodun Micheal, stated that shoplifting has always been a serious problem. “We frequently have concerns with customers taking products off the shelf without paying for them.

“As a result of these, the store gradually loses income.

“The way we get to recover our lost profit is by restocking, or we pay with our own money in order to meet up.”

Micheal, told the story of a shoplifter who was caught and arrested sometime last year.

Hear him out: “In the middle of last year, a lady was detained for allegedly swiping our groceries.

“She entered the store at 9:30 p.m., when our employees were eager to get home. She grabbed a few cans of beverages and stuffed them inside her backpack. Our store detective, on the other hand, caught her and took her into custody.”

Speaking with Lady Joy, an attendant, the story is a little different. She said, “In fact, one of the most popular anti-shoplifting solutions is the deployment of CCTV cameras.”

“The surveillance camera not only deters illegal activities like shoplifting, but it also makes us feel safer. “We are confident because CCTV ensures the security of our goods.”

She claims that if a shoplifter is aware that he is being watched, he will reconsider stealing. “The thieves may refrain from criminal activities because they are afraid of being caught,” She stated.

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