5 Things You Can Do to Prevent Theft

5 Things You Can Do to Prevent Theft

October 7, 2015 | 2 min to read

Shoplifting costs US retailers billions of dollars every year, and it's a greater menace for game stores than most.

"Third Places" like game stores endure theft in a way other retailers don't: you're not just watching over your inventory. You're also watching over your players' collections.

Few WPN organizers have watched over as many collections as Nick Coss of Top Deck Games, who put together this year's Legacy and Vintage championships, which featured some 1,200 decks filled with difficult-to-replace cards from Magic's early years.

A guy like that knows a thing or two about preventing theft. Here's how he does it at Top Deck:

1. Get Cameras

"The best in-store defense for theft is security cameras," says Nick. "That's number one."

Top Deck uses a Lorex security system, which ran Nick about $500. The video is saved to a hard drive that will hold a couple weeks' worth of footage, which is more than enough—if a player's deck goes missing, it won't take a week for them to speak up.

I think cameras are really just the way to go. It's so unobtrusive, such a simple solution.

2. Greet Every Single Customer

There's many a caper that could have been prevented by a simple greeting. A quick "hey, how are you?" lets every customer know they're appreciated—and every potential thief know they're being watched.

"I certainly don't advocate being pushy, but being helpful . . . everybody usually appreciates [that]," Nick says. "Unless they're trying to sneak something out the door."

3. Ban Thieves after the First Offense

Nick doesn't struggle much with player-on-player theft, largely because he's built a trustworthy community. And there's no room for even minor offenses in a community like that: he enforces a strict, zero-tolerance policy.

If you get caught stealing, you can't come here. It's one-strike baseball.

4. Use WER

What does using WER have to do with preventing theft? More than you might think.

If you're running and reporting your events properly (including casual events), you're getting each player's DCI number, which may be helpful to report to law enforcement, should that become necessary.

If a player's in an event, you have their name; you have the town they're from. That's usually enough.

5. Reach Out to Other Stores

"With recovering cards, it's really good to be friendly with other local stores," say Nick.

It's best to be a specific as you can about what's missing—what kind of deck box was it in, what color was the binder, were there any signed cards, etc.

"It's very important to say, 'it's in this binder with these cards on these pages, it has this business card in the back.' Having uniquely identifiable cards is going to be much, much easier to track down."

Are you doing all five? If not, start now!

By Matt Neubert

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