BAG checking has become a common practice used by retailers to reduce theft, and with good reason – shoplifting is a multimillion-dollar industry.
A 2 to 3 per cent loss of sales to shoplifting can amount to about 25 per cent loss in profit.
More than one in five businesses reported being the victim of shoplifting in the 1999 Small Business Crime Survey.
It has been estimated that shoplifting costs Australian businesses about $810 million annually (Australian Institute of Criminology).
At the moment there are no legal requirements for customers to show the contents of their bags.
Store security staff and/or employees have a right to request customers make their personal bag available for inspection.
However, in general terms, no legal authority exists for any person to comply.
The Retail Traders’ Association of WA has sponsored the Bagcheck Code.
It is not a written act of law, but information for retailers. It has been developed as a compromise between the interests of retail and customer groups.
The Code has been developed with the assistance of the Department of Commerce.
The department (commerce. wa.gov.au) advises business owners to display signage that the business will request a bag check of customers.
It implies the customer is consenting to this store policy. Whether the customer has seen or read the clearly displayed sign really does not matter.
A merchant should be entitled to implement lawful procedures that will deter or reduce theft from their outlet.
Bag-checking polices will be just one of the topics in the business theft prevention workshop to be run by the Business Growth Centre at the Joondalup Reception Centre, 102 Boas Avenue, on August 23.
Sergiu Muntean is a business consultant with the Business Growth Centre.