Let's imagine for the moment that you own a large department store, and you are having a big problem with shoplifting. (You're not alone -- retail stores lost $26 billion last year to shoplifting!) What are you going to do? You cannot let it continue, because every month your accounting system tells you that you are losing thousands of dollars to theft. It forces you to raise your prices, and that means you have to charge more than the store next door. That can make it very hard to compete, especially if the store next door is successfully discouraging shoplifting.
As a retailer focusing on the problem of what's known in the industry as loss prevention, you basically have three methods at your disposal to slow the shoplifters down: (1) You can watch everyone in the store like a hawk and make sure they don't steal anything. You can do that using security guards and/or video surveillance systems; (2) You can make things hard to remove from the store by bolting them down, attaching cables, putting things in display cases and behind the counter; (3) You can use a system that attaches special tags onto everything so that an alarm goes off whenever a shoplifter tries to walk out with an item. In this article, we'll look at each of these options in more detail.