The historical record shows that retail crime increases as GDP falls. Indeed, figures from the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research released in April 2009 support this trend, with two major categories of crime rising significantly over the 24 months to December 2008 – theft from a retail store (up 7.8%) and fraud (up 15.7%). According to a recent global study titled Loss Prevention and Beyond: Survival of the Fittest conducted by retail industry analysts Retail Systems Research (RSR), the current economic climate has significantly increased concerns about two causes of loss in the retail sector – the theft of goods by employees and the theft of goods by organised gangs, each up by 10% and 9% respectively.

As example, Bunning’s property with a value of $150,000 was recently recovered by police following raids in Sydney’s Fairfield East, Guildford and Sefton. Although it is not yet clear if this property was stolen by someone working for the company, arrests have been made and Bunnings loss prevention team were working with police as part of the investigation, dubbed ‘operation countdown’. The sheer value of the property in question would indicate that this was not a simple case of shoplifting.

“Retailers are facing one of the most challenging shoplifting and theft environments in history,” says Mark Norton, managing director, ADT Security Australia. “This year, for the first time in many years, retailers have reported an increase in loss and there is some evidence that the weak economy and resulting cutbacks in staffing are creating an opportunistic environment for thieves – whether they be individual shoplifters, employees or organised retail criminals.”

Beating rising retail crime

There is a great deal of investment being made into preventative technologies. Products such as DataTraceDNA (featured in this month’s Product Focus) are being used in the manufacturing process to give each product a traceable ‘DNA’. Larger suppliers have invested in RFID systems, so as to better track products through the distribution chain. Retailers have made similarly large investments into security systems including specialist personnel and camera systems. And the end user has a host of lock up boxes on offer to help deter thieves.

One of the big issues contributing to security problems in hardware stores is that customers expect to be able to handle items before making the decision to purchase. But this can be an irresistible invitation for thieves. Felco Australia has been trying to beat or discourage thieves since the company formed 10 years ago. Company director Remy Favre, reveals some of the lessons he has learnt during that period.

Things that work well:


  • Lock stock behind glass-front cabinets.
  • Keep stock behind the counter.
  • Keep the stock very close to the counter, within eyesight of the attendant.
  • Keep stock in locked displays (like those offered by Felco).The disadvantage of these successful methods is that they may inhibit sales if customers cannot quickly and easily locate a store attendant to let them have a close look at the products.

    Things that do not work as well:

  • Signs that read ‘this area is under video surveillance’.
  • Locked displays, if they are located in poorly lit and inadequately supervised areas of the store. (Determined thieves will find a way of forcing open these displays without being spotted.)Retail technologies on offer

    Theft-protected packaging that prevents the product from being easily taken out of its pack and substituted for a cheaper item is just one of the things suppliers can do to make it easier for the retailer to minimise shrinkage. Packaging or markings that positively link the stock to the retailer (such as DataTraceDNA) may not prevent the theft itself, but they can be useful in catching and convicting thieves.

    Mark suggests retailers consider an Electronic Article Surveillance system. “An Electronic Article Surveillance (EAS) system is a good option for hardware retailers, enabling merchandise to be displayed openly for the convenience of customers yet still protected,” he said. Utilising acousto-magnetic technology, ADT Security’s Sensormatic range of anti-theft tags, labels and pedestals have been engineered for detection and deactivation performance, aesthetics and ease-of use with virtually no false alarms.

    Offering dual benefits, video surveillance is another option available to retailers. “When cameras are placed in high exposure locations, a video surveillance system can have a significant impact on deterring shoplifters and preventing internal shrinkage. It can also help capture shoplifters in the process of stealing and allow retailers to track exactly what product was sold to which customer and by which member of staff, providing a powerful tool for combating employee theft,” says Mark. New products are always coming onto the market to help retailers and it’s worth keeping your ear to the ground for this type of news. Assa Abloy, for example, has recently announced its collaboration with Inner Range to integrate its innovative Hi-O and Aperio technologies with Inner Range’s Concept system for CCTV, security, access and automation.

    The Aperio technology complements existing electronic access control systems, providing end users with a simple, intelligent way to upgrade the controllability and security level of their premises. The new technology integrates mechanical and electronic systems, providing a world first, simple, intelligent way to upgrade the controllability and security level of buildings and facilities. Hi-O is a new standardised technology that enables all devices around an access control door to communicate with each other and become a lot smarter. Through its plug-and-play, data communication and advanced diagnostics capabilities, the cost of ownership of electronic access control doors can be dramatically reduced.

    Theft by staff members

    Though it is sad to say, a hardware store’s staff are not always above reproach. When such instances are discovered, line managers are sometimes reluctant to prosecute as they fear losing valuable time during the process, a loss of morale among other staff, possible criticism by senior management (why did you hire that person? Why did you not supervise them more closely?), and possible retaliation by the perpetrator.

    It is often easier for those who find themselves in this situation to quietly confront the person and let them go. As a result, repeat offenders can move from one workplace to the other without ever being held accountable for their criminal behaviour. It has been suggested that an industry-wide policy of systematically naming, then reporting indelicate staff members to police would help and be an effective deterrent if every new employee were made plainly aware of such policy at the time of their employment. By integrating store intelligence software with existing hardware assets such as CCTV or access control, retailers can pinpoint where losses are originating and efficiently respond.


Theft from the jobsite

Jobsite security continues to be a major challenge for building contractors. In the US annual losses are estimated at $1 billion. (And this figure refers only to stolen items reported to insurance companies – not unreported thefts.) The growing problem of construction site crime was detailed in an October study by DeWalt. Jobsite interviews with 200 commercial and residential contractors, and an independent poll of 1500 construction project users and buyers, found that 97% of them were concerned about jobsite security. Tool theft, material theft and truck and van protection were the top three types of jobsite concerns noted, with 60% agreeing that tool theft is the number one concern as it has the greatest economic impact.

Work site theft results in lost items that need to be replaced, lost time when crews can’t go to work and decreased personal productivity, the study found. More than half of those interviewed have had equipment stolen in the past 12 months and 77 percent of the jobsites have experienced theft up to five times each year for the past three years. That in mind, we thought we’d also take a closer look at some of the tough toolboxes on offer… New from 1-11, the ‘Lockdown’ site box 1220w features a patented eight point locking system, operated by a keyed lock. A heavy duty construction, from fully welded from cold rolled steel, ensures the models will take the knocks associated with a hard day’s work. And two heavy duty side handles make lifting it onto or off the ute a breeze. Add the functionality of fork lift and, even when it’s full to bursting, users will still be able to manoeuvre this tool box around the job site with ease.

Also new to the 1-11 range, the steel truck box again features the patented Lockdown locking system. Users simply close the lid, turn the handle and seven locking points slide into place, ensuring maximum security for valuable equipment and tools. Features of this model include: gas struts to secure the lid, a powder coated white ripple finish, one lockable and two open compartments. As this model is also made from fully welded cold rolled steel, users can expect outstanding security and long life.

Specifically designed for work vehicles, the Kincrome Aluminium Utility Storage range is made tough for the trade. The new utility storage range starts with the Aluminium Upright Truck Box series. Available in three sizes to fit either the width or length of a vehicle, the Upright Truck Box range is available in three lengths and stands 700mm upright for easy access.

The range includes two Upright Truck Boxes in lengths of 900mm and 1450mm with a side height of 500mm designed to clear the sides of most utes and trays, while the low side upright truck box offers lower lid access and longer 1210mm length. All three ranges include an internal shelf for storage.

The upright series features a fully welded construction, manufactured from 2.5mm gauge aluminium with a chequer plate finish which is light in weight for easy maneuverability. The Upright Truck Box series includes rubber weather seals and a concealed stainless steel hinge to prevent water from entering the box, twin gas struts for easy lifting of the lid and is secured by a key lockable t-handle dual style locking system to keep handles out of harms way. Next in the range is Kincrome’s Low Profile Aluminium Truck Box range. Similar to a traditional tool box, the low profile range features a slightly angled lid and is designed with a lower 500mm height allowing easier and greater access for lifting heavy items into the box. There are two boxes in the range with lengths of 1250mm and 1500mm with a side height of 600mm for both.

The Under Ute series also features a fully welded construction and manufactured from 1.5mm gauge aluminium with a chequer plate finish. Both the left and right models feature a dual layer top for mounting strength and to prevent the boxes becoming detached when weighted with tools. The series includes rubber weather seals, a stainless steel hinge, two chain stays for easy access and is secured with a key lockable t-handle locking system. The Kincrome Aluminium Utility Storage range is now available from leading automotive, industrial and hardware stores across Australia. For more information and details of your nearest stockist visit the Kincrome website www.kincrome.com.au.

Tool boxes don’t come much tougher than the Gladiator Garage Works range. Launched in the US in 2001, they are supplied in Australia by Peter McInnes, a wholesale company based in Cameron Park, Newcastle, NSW. The Ball-Bearing Slides make opening and closing the drawer easy, even when fully loaded. Insert protects drawer surface from scratching and helps keep tools in place when drawers are opened and closed. And the lock offers additional security, to keep children and pets away from harmful and unsafe products.

All Gladiator GarageWorks products can be locked using the same key. Gas struts provide the lid with smooth opening and closing operation. While two swivel and non-swivel casters provide mobility. The swivel casters can be mounted on either the left or right side of the Roll-Away. And both swivel casters can be locked for stability.

Sometimes, people need protecting from themselves, as was the case with one of Irwin’s tool users in the US recently. When driving at 75miles per hour down the interstate in North Carolina, his truck hit a bump in the road, the tailgate flew down and his Irwin Tool Box (like the one pictured), shot off the back and bounced its way down the road. It finally came to rest in a ditch on the side of the road and when the driver raced back to the spot to recover his box filled with expensive tools – there was not much more than a few scratches on the box and all his tools remained securely locked inside, just as they were when he loaded it onto his truck. This is one tough box…made in the US from structural foam!

Want to know more? It was a 660mm Professional Tool Box that weighs in at just 6.12kgs and is 730mm x 330mm x 290mm. This tough, lightweight construction gives fast access to storage from both sides and the rainproof design comes with rust-resistant metal latches for secure closure and a comfortable, rubberised handle. For ease of lifting, there are extra handle grips on sides and the storage lid houses smaller parts. And for added security, the model comes padlock-ready, with a built-in loop.