Protecting your business from criminal activities


If you believe someone is leaving your business with stolen goods, you have a right to conduct a bag search. Keep in mind the customer also has the right to refuse your request. You can’t force them to agree, use physical force or unduly harass them into paying.

If you ask to search their bag they refuse, you may:

  • ask them to leave
  • refuse to sell them any goods
  • call the police if you believe they have been shoplifting.

You can display a sign prominently at the front of your store informing your customers that they may be asked to display the contents of their bags before leaving. This shows that it's a condition of entry that you may inspect a bag.

Things you can do to reduce the risk of theft in your business include:

  • using protective devices, such as security cameras and security labels or tags
  • encouraging staff to watch customers and keep an eye out for suspicious behaviour
  • having someone monitor display counters, particularly where there are small, expensive items
  • making sure merchandise is not left lying around
  • keeping areas well lit
  • closing the cash register between every transaction and removing keys from showcases.

Protect your business from scams

For information on scams and how to avoid them, visit the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's (ACCC) SCAMwatch website.

The website has information and advice on a range of scams and fraudulent activities that target Australian small businesses and consumers.

You can also register to receive free SCAMwatch email alerts about new scams.

Related information

Other websites

Avoiding scams - Australian Competition and Consumer Commission


Shop Theft (Alternative Enforcement) Act 2000

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Page last updated 12 October 2021

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