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HomeFEATURESThe two faces of retail crime

The two faces of retail crime

Shopping around for security

The world of ecommerce is exciting, says Chris Hails, security consultant with NetSafe. “Anyone can set up a website in an hour and start selling to anywhere in the world. There are fantastic possibilities when your business is online 24/7.”

Yet it still pays to be clever with security measures. Hails says that at NetSafe they see a lot of security breaches around low level websites where people have paid a relative or friend to get a retail presence up and running. Often websites are set up and left in the state that they were built, with little maintenance on the security front.

“You need to allow some budget to have someone, a web developer or a security expert, maintain the software, and even run a penetration test, a professional hacking test to exploit vulnerabilities,” he says.

New Zealanders are really handy, and will often take the DIY route to building a retail web presence, getting it up and running with money rolling in, even it they don’t know everything about security. Unfortunately this approach sees many small companies exposed to risks that they have never considered.

Hails says that if you’re looking for a developer, then security needs to be on the shopping list. Ask potential developers questions like:

Do you know about web security?

Are you aware of the security standards?

Can you read the results of a penetration test?

Do you know how to code securely?

It’s a case of being aware and doing things properly, he says, in order to mitigate security risks and reduce the occurrence of unwanted events.

Trends in the crime sector

Gary Morrison says trends around physical crime can be divided into three perspectives – shoplifting, robbery and burglary.

Shoplifting: current statistics show losses from shoplifting are at the highest ever recorded levels, with the trend showing that these are continuing to increase, Morrison says. Retailers are using a range of measures, including personnel (retail security staff), physical (mirrors) and electronic (tags and scanners).

“However, from a security industry perspective, the investment into these measures seems somewhat disproportionate given the value of losses incurred and these almost seems to be an acceptance that this is a cost of doing business.”

Robbery: trends over the years have seen a decrease in retail robberies, which Morrison says is probably due to reduced amounts of cash in circulation, increased use of CCTV and harsher penalties being imposed where cash or goods have been obtained under threat. Yet there is an exception to the trend with high risk retailers, such as smaller liquor stores, which continue to see a high level of incidents that are often opportunistic in nature.

“We believe that most retailers take appropriate steps to prevent robbery,” Morrison says. “However, we do have concerns regarding staff being required to walk cash takings to the bank and poor cash handling procedures.”

Burglary: Morrison says that burglary trends have seen the number of offences stay static, or reduced slightly over the last five years. Yet there are more targeted burglaries where offenders focus within certain geographic boundaries, or target specific products or sector types.

“Most retailers have monitored alarms. However, a number do not utilise a response company and rely on management or staff to attend to any alarm activation. This places the attending person at considerable risk and clearly breaches Health and Safety obligations if that person has not been provided with appropriate training and support.”

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