HONOLULU (KHON2) — Retailers are prepping for a busy shopping season and experts said they are also taking steps to prevent shoplifting

The holidays are right around the corner, and Tina Yamaki, Retail Merchants of Hawaii President, said many are preparing for the peak shopping season by hiring security guards and loss prevention specialists to stop shoplifters.

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“We are seeing a lot of stores beefing up a little bit more insecurity, whether it’s a hired security or having more staff staying by the entryways,” Yamaki explained.

“A lot of times when people see a security guard, it kind of deters them from shoplifting, especially crimes of opportunity.”

The Honolulu Police Department’s annual report shows a steady decline in shoplifting over the past three years, (2019=3,141; 2020=2,100; 2021=1,945) despite claims it increased by many retailers.

“Some stores are not reporting it to the police, they’re getting so frustrated,” Yamaki said. “They report it to the police; it gets to court. And then, nothing happens.”

While some stores are hiring security, others are taking a different approach.

James Gieschen, owner of Sugar Sugar Hawaii, said they’re much more strict than most stores.

Gieschen said it got to be too much dealing with up to three shoplifting incidents a day — costing them thousands of dollars a month.

So they put signs up warning potential thieves they would be prosecuted to the full extent of the law and they invested in a cutting edge camera system.

“It has all kinds of tech behind it, and A.I. behind it so it’s been a huge blessing. But, it’s been a huge investment,” said Gieschen.

He said they also work very closely with HPD.

But, that is not all they do. If you get caught stealing on camera at their store, your face will likely end up on their wall of shame.

“We have posters when you walk in,” Gieschen said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t want to do that; but we kind of had no choice at this point.”

KHON: “Why not hire a security guard or a loss prevention specialist? Why go this route?”

Gieschen said a lot of people have asked him that question.

“We rather not create that presentation when people walk in that there’s a bouncer at our door,” he explained. “And, we’re not a luxury brand so we also can’t really afford that.”

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According to the National Association of Shoplifting and Theft Addition Specialists, shoplifting is the number one property crime in the country with 500,000 incidents occurring each day costing businesses $13 billion annually.