Supermarket chain Sheng Siong will adopt a fresh approach in tackling shoplifters at all its outlets, after a pilot trial introduced in July last year produced positive results.
The number of shop theft cases at the three participating outlets in Woodlands decreased by about 42 per cent, according to Sheng Siong CEO Lim Hock Chee.
Yesterday, the Shopwatch Community Safety and Security Programme was extended to all 38 Sheng Siong supermarkets islandwide.
The initiative, a collaboration between the Singapore Police Force and Sheng Siong, will see five to 10 employees at each outlet at a time wearing dark blue vests to enhance their presence in the stores. These vests bear the Shopwatch logo and a tagline saying: "May I help you?"
Mr Lim said: "Previously, if an employee noticed someone shoplifting, they would react to it by confronting the person or alerting the police. Now, they will approach a suspicious person even before any crime is committed, but with the intention to offer help instead."
Besides serving as a reminder to shoppers with itchy fingers that there are watchful eyes on the ground, the initiative has also improved customer service.
Employees undergo an hour-long training session to pick up skills in identifying possible shoplifters and approaching them in a less confrontational manner.
According to police figures, there were a total of 2,783 shop theft cases reported in all retail stores islandwide from January to September this year, down from 2,964 in the same period last year.
Police superintendent and commanding officer of Woodlands West Neighbourhood Police Centre Foo Jit Piao believes the initiative will better channel police resources towards tackling more serious crimes.
He added: "Shop theft is one of the more preventable crimes out there. In the future, we hope to encourage as many retailers as possible to come on board."