in LPRC Reports

Advancing Retail Security Design:
Uncovering Shoplifter Perceptions
of the Physical Environment

Candy Carmel-Gilfilen, M.Arch, University of Florida
Security is imperative knowledge for the designer, yet little integration currently exists
between security and interior design. Further, the retail environment has been recognized
as holding great potential for crime reduction through enhanced design solutions. The
purpose of this study was to explore perceptions of 24 expert and novice shoplifters using
verbal protocol analysis, a methodology for eliciting verbal reports of thought sequences.
The study objectives were to examine shoplifters’ perceptions of the retail environment,
investigate potential deterrents to crime, and explore the relationship between physical
design features and security techniques. The results revealed significant differences
between expert and novice shoplifters. Findings indicated that shoplifters focused
attention on the evidence of design and security devices, including formal surveillance,
product positioning, security tagging, employee positioning, access control, and store
layout. Finally, the study also supported three profiles of shoplifters: low, medium, and
high environmental deterrence. Overall, the study illustrates the potential of the physical
environment to deter shoplifting, and proposes appropriate design solutions.

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