Retail Theft Comes In Many Forms

Retail theft is a common problem across the United States. Shoplifters often think of it as a victimless crime. The truth is that retailers lose millions of dollars every year due to theft. It’s easy to understand why someone might steal a physical object, like a piece of jewelry or a pair of shoes. But it’s not always so clear why someone might steal something that can’t be seen.

This doesn’t mean that the motives aren’t just as complex and interesting. Retail theft comes in many different forms, with motivations that range from financial need to psychological compulsion. Understanding these motivations is key to preventing theft.  It can also help those who may have committed it in the past.

So what are some of the most common types of retail theft?  In a physical retail environment, it can range from stealing merchandise, changing price tags, passing bad checks, using a stolen credit card, or counterfeit money. Not only do you have to watch customers, but also employees. Employee theft is a major obstacle for store owners.

Internet and Web stores that only sell online have different kinds of problems. Financial security is a major consideration when accepting credit cards online. The use of stolen credit cards to purchase goods is prevalent. Online stores must take added precautions on web purchases. Some of the safeguards include only accepting valid billing addresses, security codes, and a host of other proprietary technological tools used behind the scenes.

Another theft that occurs in brick and mortar stores and web stores is Intellectual Property. This includes stealing product descriptions and plagiarizing store information. Thefts include informative articles, blogs, advertising, and commonly your copyrighted and trademarked photos and images. Internet thieves in need of photos for their website will steal yours. This is piracy. They use them for personal financial gain rather than going through the expense of creating their own.

Producing images of products and services doesn’t usually come cheap. Depending on the quality and depth of your image needs, you may hire a photographer, build and outfit your studio or rent someone else’s. You might hire models who can add make-up, hair, and clothing costs. They say copying your work or stealing images from your site is the sincerest form of flattery but it goes beyond that.

A good photo is worth many times its acquisition cost because images drive sales. If a customer sees a beautiful kimono in an image, it allows them to make a reasonable decision to purchase that product. Since kimonos and yukatas are so unique, photos can take into account many hours of creative thinking, and intellect. It also uses the time of others when using models, photographers, set designers, editors, and more.

We have caught dozens of “so-called” competitors stealing our images over the years. We usually resolve this by sending a Cease and Desist Notice. In most cases, the thieves complied and removed the pictures. Others ignored us until we had our attorneys write a demand letter. Two companies didn’t think it was a big deal until we filed suit in court and won. Neither of these two is in business any longer.

Overseas dealers regularly use our product descriptions, sizing information, and ideas on their websites.  We chalk this up to being one of the Internet’s Leading Providers of Authentic Japanese Kimonos and Yukatas. We have been online since 1994 and other businesses look up to us. They feel stealing from us may help their success too. It comes down to ethics and morals. If you steal others’ work, you don’t have ethics, therefore you will steal and cheat your customers as well.

We have various methods to check for copyright theft. These include the use of digital watermarks, scheduled web surfing, customer reports, and other dealers word of mouth. A recent theft incident arose on a website that deals in Kimonos, Japanese knickknacks, and tourist trade trinkets. This site dared to steal and use over two dozen images that belonged to us. The couple who own this business never asked for permission. They feel stealing others property in the darkness of their home is easier. Can you imagine how they might lie and cheat their  customers?

Ironically this theft was discovered by a staff member processing an order they submitted. Since they are so familiar with our website they thought to take advantage of a clearance sale we have for some kid’s kimonos and outfits. Priced below cost, they were savvy to recognize the deal. But they are so arrogant, they didn’t think that using their business name on the order might lead to someone surfing their site simply out of curiosity. We don’t discourage competitors from taking advantage of our sales, but we frown on thieves stealing our copyrighted images.

Management wrote them a cease and desist notice and they complied and removed the images. Not only did they steal images outright, but they also modified some to use for alternate products. The real irony was the reply letter one owner sent us. He tried to come off as the victim, alluding that we were overzealous in our demand. This owner relayed how knowledgeable he was on the laws of image theft and placed blame on some rogue employees that come and go.  He proceeded to explain how reputable he is and how many friends he has and works with within the industry.

We say with friends like this, watch your backs or at a minimum watch the images on your website. Unfortunately, these situations will happen again. It is part of being in business.  Our issue besides stealing from us is the time consumption involved with calling the thieves out. We would rather spend our time providing our customers with quality service, value, and the fast shipping they receive, rather than banter back and forth with crooks.  You can shop online 24 hours a day in our online Kimono Shop. Our Shop is safe, secure and honest.

Piracy Image Thieves

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