Police expand programme to help retailers combat shop theft as cases rise, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Police expand programme to help retailers combat shop theft as cases rise

This article is more than 12 months old

Amid concerns over an increase in shop theft, the police will expand a programme to help retailers fight crime.

Under its Shop Theft Awareness for Retailers (Star) initiative, the police work closely with businesses to analyse ways in which their stores are vulnerable to theft and come up with countermeasures.

Speaking at the inaugural Retailers Safety and Security Symposium on Tuesday, Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Lian Ghim Hua said cases of shop theft rose by 12 per cent, from 1,280 in the first half of 2021 to 1,439 in the same period in 2022.

There were 2,652 cases of shop theft reported in 2021.

“This uptrend is a concern and the police are committed to work closely with our partners in the retail sector to bring down the numbers,” said DCP Lian.

Launched in 2018, the Star programme now has over 50 retailers on board, including Tangs, Watsons and Puma.

It will be rolled out progressively in 2023 across all Neighbourhood Police Centres, which will work with retailers in their area. There are no limits on the number of retailers that can join the programme.

The Star programme includes a primary survey where the police will assess whether the store has adequate security measures such as closed-circuit television cameras.

The police may also make recommendations to retailers such as keeping expensive items under lock and key.

They will also conduct training for retail staff to support them in deterring shop theft through their daily work. It will involve a three-step process which will emphasise alertness, observation skills and safety.

Tangs’ facilities and security manager Ishak Othman said the department store chain’s VivoCity outlet joined the Star programme in 2019.

As a result, Tangs put up deterrent signs against shop theft and trained staff to spot and approach suspicious shoppers. The police also posed as shoplifters to assess how staff members reacted.

“We collaborated with the police to develop solutions, resulting in a 50 per cent decrease in shop theft cases in Tangs at VivoCity since 2019,” said Mr Othman.

Local grocer Sun Supermarket also saw a marked decrease in shoplifting after participating in the Star programme. It has four outlets, including one in Woodlands Industrial Park.

The supermarket’s director, Mr Chockalingam Vijayakumar, said they used to see one to two shoplifting cases a week at the Woodlands branch.

After improving the store’s surveillance system, including placing mirrors to improve visibility of blind spots, such crime dropped to once every two months.

Said Mr Chockalingam: “The proposed measures have been very helpful and do not compromise the way we treat our customers.

“I will keep training my staff so they are confident in how to handle shoplifting cases.”