Prime Supermarket rolls out anti-theft programme at outlets
Prime Supermarkets works with police on new initiative to lower number of shop thefts
The next time you visit a Prime Supermarket outlet, don't be surprised if you see the staff wearing a navy blue vest with the words "ShopWatch. 'May I Help You?'" on the back.
It is a new programme the supermarket chain rolled out at all its 20 outlets yesterday to prevent shop theft.
The idea is to get trained supermarket staff to approach suspicious-looking shoppers and asking them, "May I help you?" or "Is there anything I can help you with?".
"This way, the suspects will be frightened and think twice about their actions before they steal," said the police commander of the Jurong Division, Assistant Commissioner Koh Wei Keong.
The ShopWatch Community Safety and Security Programme was introduced by the Singapore Police Force (SPF) last October (See report, above.)
Prime Supermarket chief executive officer Chong Wee Cheong told The New Paper yesterday: "We discussed the programme with SPF last year and I feel it is a wonderful initiative.
"Since SPF is part of the community and so is Prime, we want to work together to reduce the number of shop thefts in our supermarkets."
Thirty Prime Supermarket managers have gone through two training sessions and 300 to 400 of its employees have also been trained.
These employees were taught how to identify potential suspects, such as looking out for shoppers who loiter for long periods of time without buying anything.
Or those who carry bags close to their bodies or push a small trolley with newspaper to hide the items.
Employees were also trained to overcome their nervousness and be confident when approaching a suspect.
Once they complete the training, which takes one to two hours, the employees will be given the blue vests to wear over their uniforms.
"When they wear the vests, their presence will be more established and suspects who plan to steal will be more wary of them," said AC Koh.
Even as employees are being trained by StopWatch to be more vigilant about suspicious customers, they will still continue to go about their duties in the store.
Mr Ringo Neo, 48, branch manager at Prime Supermarket's Gek Poh Shopping Centre outlet, agreed that the programme was helpful.
"With this programme, at least it deters the suspects from stealing and it lowers chances of them retaliating and turning violent," he said.
Items that are commonly stolen by adults are beer, facial care products and milk powder, while children usually steal sweets.
One shopper, Madam Razeena Begum, said ShopWatch is a good programme as it gives people a second chance to think about what they are about to do.
Madam Razeena, 45, who used to own a provision shop, said: "I had many people steal from my shop items such as toothpaste and soap, which are daily necessities.
"But I understand that sometimes they don't have enough money and they regret when they steal so it's good that this programme gives them a second chance (to think)."
When they wear the vests, their presence will be more established, and suspects who plan to steal will be more wary of them
- Assistant Commissioner Koh Wei Keong
Sheng Siong reports 10% drop in thefts
Sheng Siong was the first to roll out the StopWatch Community Safety and Security Programme (CSSP) in its 38 outlets when the Singapore Police Force introduced it in October last year.
The supermarket operator said there was a 10 per cent drop in reported shop thefts from last October to August this year, compared to November 2014 to September last year.
The Commander of Jurong Division, Assistant Commissioner Koh Wei Keong, said shop theft statistics from Sheng Siong looked very promising.
He added that the police appreciate Prime Supermarket's strong support of the programme, which will further aid the police in combating shop theft.
A police spokesman said: "ShopWatch CSSP can be implemented in retail stores and aims to reach out to other supermarkets such as Giant and NTUC in the future."
By the numbers
Number of reported shop theft cases here:
2015 (JAN TO JUNE):
2016 (JAN TO JUNE):