Retail Crime pp 379-402 | Cite as

Towards a Theory of Tagging in Retail Environments

  • Aiden Sidebottom
  • Nick Tilley
Part of the Crime Prevention and Security Management book series (CPSM)


In this chapter we develop a theory of security tagging. We draw chiefly on the results of a recent systematic review of the tagging literature, supplemented with evidence from other germane areas of crime prevention. Our aim is to construct a theory that applies across varying retail settings and which can therefore be drawn on to improve decisions on the appropriateness of tagging in specific contexts.


Retail crime Security tagging EMMIE Crime prevention 


  1. Anderson, L. M., Petticrew, M., Rehfuess, E., Armstrong, R., Ueffing, E., Baker, P., et al. (2011). Using Logic Models to Capture Complexity in Systematic Reviews. Research Synthesis Methods, 2(1), 33–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bamfield, J. (1994). Electronic Article Surveillance: Management Learning in Curbing Theft. In M. Gill (Ed.), Crime at Work: Studies in Security and Crime Prevention (pp. 155–173). Leicester, England: Perpetuity Press.Google Scholar
  3. Beck, A. (2016a). Beyond Shrinkage: Introducing Total Retail Loss. Retail Industry Leaders Association Report.Google Scholar
  4. Beck, A. (2016b). Amplifying Risk in Retail Stores: The Evidence to Date on Making Shop Thieves Think Twice. ECR Community Shrinkage & On-shelf Availability Group.Google Scholar
  5. Beck, A., & Palmer, W. (2010). The Importance of Visual Situational Cues and Difficulty of Removal in Creating Deterrence: The Limitations of Electronic Article Surveillance Source Tagging in the Retail Environment. Journal of Applied Security Research, 6, 110–123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Blackwood, R., & Hayes, R. (2003). EAS Retail Theft Protection Systems: An Issue Update. Orlando, FL: Loss Prevention Research Council.Google Scholar
  7. Braga, A. A., Papachristos, A. V., & Hureau, D. M. (2014). The Effects of Hot Spots Policing on Crime: An Updated Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Justice Quarterly, 31(4), 633–663.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cartwright, N. (2013). Knowing What We Are Talking About: Why Evidence Doesn’t Always Travel. Evidence & Policy: A Journal of Research, Debate and Practice, 9(1), 97–112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Clarke, R. V., & Petrossian, G. (2012). The Problem of Shoplifting. Center for Problem-Oriented Policing.Google Scholar
  10. Clarke, R. V. G. (1999). Hot Products: Understanding, Anticipating and Reducing Demand for Stolen Goods (Vol. 112). London: Home Office, Policing and Reducing Crime Unit, Research, Development and Statistics Directorate.Google Scholar
  11. DiLonardo, R. (2008). Electronic Article Surveillance. In C. A. Sennewald & J. H. Christman (Eds.), Retail Crime, Security, and Loss Prevention: An Encyclopedic Reference. Burlington, MA: Butterworth-Heinemann.Google Scholar
  12. DiLonardo, R., & Clarke, R. (1996). Reducing the Rewards of Shoplifting: An Evaluation of ink tags. Security Journal, 7, 11–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Downs, D., Hayes, R., & Tallman, C. (2011). Product Protection Research Project: A3Tag Testing the Effectiveness of the A3Tag on Sales and Loss. Report Produced by the Loss Prevention Research Council.Google Scholar
  14. Eck, J. E. (2017a). Evaluation and Review for Lesson Learning. In N. Tilley & A. Sidebottom (Eds.), Handbook of Crime Prevention and Community Safety (2nd ed., pp. 560–583). Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  15. Eck, J. E. (2017b). Some Solutions to the Evidence-Based Crime Prevention Problem. In K. Knutsson & L. Tompson (Eds.), Advances in Evidence-Based Policing (pp. 45–63). Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  16. Eck, J. E., & Madensen, T. (2009). Using Signatures of Opportunity Structures to Examine Mechanisms in Crime Prevention Evaluations. In J. Knutsson & N. Tilley (Eds.), Evaluating Crime Reduction Initiatives (pp. 59–84). Monsey, NY: Criminal Justice Press.Google Scholar
  17. Ekblom, P. (1999). Can We Make Crime Prevention Adaptive by Learning from Other Evolutionary Struggles? Studies on Crime and Crime Prevention, 8, 27–51.Google Scholar
  18. Ekblom, P. (2010). Crime Prevention, Security and Community Safety Using the 5Is Framework. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  19. Farrell, G., Tseloni, A., & Tilley, N. (2016). Signature Dish: Triangulation from Data Signatures to Examine the Role of Security in Falling Crime. Methodological Innovations, 9.
  20. Gill, M., Bilby, C., & Turbin, V. (1999). Retail Security: Understanding What Deters Shop Thieves. Journal of Security Administration, 22(1), 29.Google Scholar
  21. Gill, M., & Clarke, R. V. (2012). Differential Theft Risks of Fast Moving Consumer Goods. In P. Ekblom (Ed.), Design Against Crime: Crime Proofing Everyday Products, Crime Prevention Studies (pp. 229–238). Boulder, CO: Rienner.Google Scholar
  22. Global Retail Theft Barometer. (2015). Global Retail Theft Barometer. Thorofare, NJ: Checkpoint Systems Inc.Google Scholar
  23. Hayes, R. (1997). Shop Theft: An Analysis of Apprehended Shoplifters. Security Journal, 7(1), 11–14.Google Scholar
  24. Hayes, R. (2007). Electronic Article Surveillance: Reviewing the Failures and Successes of a Shoplifting Control Process. Report produced by the Loss Prevention Research Council.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hayes, R., & Blackwood, R. (2006). Evaluating the Effects of EAS on Product Sales and Loss: Results of a Large-Scale Field Experiment. Security Journal, 19, 262–276.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Homel, R., & Homel, P. (2012). Implementing Crime Prevention: Good Governance and a Science of Implementation. In The Oxford Handbook of Crime Prevention (pp. 423–445). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Hopkins, M., & Gill, M. (2017). Business, Crime and Crime Prevention: Emerging Debates and Future Challenges. In N. Tilley & A. Sidebottom (Eds.), Handbook of Crime Prevention and Community Safety (2nd ed., pp. 373–393). Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  28. Johnson, S. D., Tilley, N., & Bowers, K. J. (2015). Introducing EMMIE: An Evidence Rating Scale to Encourage Mixed-Method Crime Prevention Synthesis Reviews. Journal of Experimental Criminology, 11(3), 459–473.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Lasky, N. V., Fisher, B. S., & Jacques, S. (2015). ‘Thinking Thief’ in the Crime Prevention Arms Race: Lessons Learned From Shoplifters. Security Journal, 3(3), 497–526.Google Scholar
  30. McLaughlin, J. A., & Jordan, G. B. (1999). Logic Models: A Tool for Telling Your Program’s Performance Story. Evaluation and Program Planning, 22(1), 65–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Merton, R. K. (1967). On Theoretical Sociology. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  32. Pawson, R., & Tilley, N. (1994). What Works in Evaluation Research? British Journal of Criminology, 34(3), 291–306.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Pawson, R., & Tilley, N. (1997). Realistic Evaluation. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  34. Pease, K. (2001). Cracking Crime Through Design. London: Design Council.Google Scholar
  35. Popper, K. (1972). Objective Knowledge. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  36. Ratcliffe, J. H., Taniguchi, T., Groff, E. R., & Wood, J. D. (2011). The Philadelphia Foot Patrol Experiment: A Randomized Controlled Trial of Police Patrol Effectiveness in Violent Crime Hotspots. Criminology, 49(3), 795–831.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Sherman, L. W., Williams, S., Ariel, B., Strang, L. R., Wain, N., Slothower, M., et al. (2014). An Integrated Theory of Hot Spots Patrol Strategy: Implementing Prevention by Scaling Up and Feeding Back. Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice, 30(2), 95–122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Sidebottom, A., Thornton, A., Tompson, L., Belur, J., Tilley, N., & Bowers, K. (2017). A Systematic Review of Tagging as a Method to Reduce Theft in Retail Environments. Crime Science, 6(1), 7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Sidebottom, A., Tompson, L., Thornton, A., Bullock, K., Tilley, N., Bowers, K., et al. (2017). Gating Alleys to Reduce Crime: A Meta-analysis and Realist Synthesis. Justice Quarterly 35(1), 55–86. Retrieved November 11, 2017, from CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Smith, B. T. (2017). Understanding Shoplifting of Fast-Moving Consumer Goods: An Application of the CRAVED Model. Security Journal, 1–23.Google Scholar
  41. Sparrow, M. (2016). Handcuffed: What Holds Policing Back, and the Keys to Reform. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press.Google Scholar
  42. Tilley, N. (1993). Understanding Car Parks, Crime, and CCTV: Evaluation Lessons from Safer Cities. London: Home Office Police Department.Google Scholar
  43. Tilley, N., & Laycock, G. (2017). The Why, What, When and How of Evidence-based Policing. In K. Knutsson & L. Tompson (Eds.), Advances in Evidence-Based Policing (pp. 10–26). Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  44. Tilley, N., & Sidebottom, A. (2017). Theory for Crime Prevention. In N. Tilley & A. Sidebottom (Eds.), Handbook of Crime Prevention and Community Safety (2nd ed., pp. 3–21). Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  45. Tilley, N., Thompson, R., Farrell, G., Grove, L., & Tseloni, A. (2015). Do Burglar Alarms Increase Burglary Risk? A Counter-Intuitive Finding and Possible Explanations. Crime Prevention and Community Safety, 17(1), 1–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Walsh, D. P. (1978). Shoplifting: Controlling a Major Crime. London; Basingstoke: Macmillan Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Williams, L. (Ed.). (2016). Crime Against Business: Findings from the 2015 Commercial Vicrtimisation Survey. London: Home Office.Google Scholar
  48. Wortley, R. K., & Townsley, M. (Eds.). (2016). Environmental Criminology and Crime Analysis (Vol. 18). London: Taylor and Francis.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aiden Sidebottom
    • 1
  • Nick Tilley
    • 1
  1. 1.UCL Jill Dando Institute of Security and Crime ScienceLondonUK

Personalised recommendations