What Is Costco’s Policy on Shoplifting?

Regular Costco customers may wonder if there is a shoplifting policy in place. Costco, like other retailers, deals with shoplifting quite often and has a zero-tolerance policy for the crime. Let us see about Costco’s policy on shoplifting.

What Is Costco’s Policy on Shoplifting?

What Is Costco’s Policy on Shoplifting?

If a customer or an employee is caught shoplifting at any Costco store, they will most likely be banned from all Costco locations in the future, and in severe circumstances, shoplifters may be prosecuted and punished by law. We dive deep into the kind of measures in place at Costco to prevent shoplifting.

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How much does Costco lose to shoplifting? 

Costco’s warehouse shrinkage is estimated to be 0.11-0.12 percent of annual sales. This figure is much lower compared to other retailers, with some losing around 1.33 percent per year. So, what accounts for Costco’s low shrinkage? Its strict shoplifting policy is one factor.  

Costco’s Shoplifting Measures  

Costco is reputable for its stringent shoplifting measures. Here are some of the measures it has in effect for both customers and employees to tackle shoplifting:

  • Security cameras: Security cameras, which are carefully placed throughout Costco stores, watch the activities of employees and customers to record any unusual or criminal behavior, such as theft. CCTVs near the checkouts ensure that customers are checking out properly. Security footage is reviewed rigorously if a shoplifting case takes place.
  • Security Guards: Costco employs competent security guards in all of its locations that observe employees and customer actions to see if they engage in any suspicious or criminal behavior.
  • Costco prevention workers: Costco has prevention employees who go ‘undercover’ and pretend to shop but are looking out for suspicious or criminal conduct among customers or other employees. Prevention workers are also tasked with detaining shoplifters and discussing legal issues with the relevant law administration.
  • Security tags: Costco has security tags on all its products, which set off a beep or alarm when taken off from their packaging while leaving the store.
  • Receipt checks: When customers are about to leave the store, store employees inspect their purchase receipts. The store staff will check to see if the receipt matches what you purchased, and if you are carrying items that are not shown on the receipt, the staff will ask you to provide evidence of purchase.
  • Costco layout: Costco has a strict preventive mechanism that regulates the entrance and exit of its stores; unlike other stores with many exits, Costco has just one entry and exit.
  • Costco Membership: Costco maintains entry based on a membership policy that prevents its employees and customers from shoplifting as Costco has records of all its members and can check who has entered the store and exited. The membership also provides Costco with customer information, allowing them to easily trace someone down if they have shoplifted.
  • Costco also pays its employees more than the minimum wage (around $24 per hour) to keep them satisfied and prevent them from engaging in criminal behavior.

Costco Shoplifting policy

What happens when a Costco employee catches a shoplifter red-handed? The consequences can be severe. Costco has already prosecuted several shoplifters and will continue to do so when such illegal behavior occurs. Here’s more information about the retailer’s shoplifting policy:

  • Shoplifters can be charged with misdemeanors or felonies
  • Customers who shoplift may be charged with Organized Retail Theft
  • Shoplifters’ memberships may be canceled
  • Employees who shoplift may be fired
  • A shoplifter who is an employee may also be charged with embezzlement
  • Shoplifters will be denied entry into Costco stores in the future
  • In some cases, shoplifters may be jailed
  • In addition, shoplifters will have to cope with an embarrassing public and private image, which may damage their educational and employment possibilities, as well as pose visa problems if they are a foreigner.


Costco’s shoplifting policy is one of the most stringent among many other large retailers in the country. It is extremely proactive in preventing shoplifting in the first place, with incredibly tight security, a membership policy, and good financial incentives for its employees. If an employee or a customer is caught shoplifting, they will face severe punishment, as seen by how Costco has prosecuted many shoplifters in the past. Customers and workers should be honest and retain their integrity at Costco or any other store rather than engaging in such criminal activities.


Does Costco have CCTV cameras? 

Yes, Costco has CCTV cameras in all its stores.

How do people steal at Costco? 

Shoplifters engage in a variety of misbehaviors. They may steal a product, remove, or misplace security tags, etc.

What if I get wrongfully accused of shoplifting at Costco? 

Despite its tight security, customers may be falsely detained owing to a shoplifting charge. In this case, you should speak with Costco to clarify that you have not committed a crime and consult a lawyer if the issue worsens.

What Is Costco’s Policy on Shoplifting?

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