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Winona Shminona

Distressed about store theft? Don't waste time worrying about the Winonas of the world. Better to look at who's behind the counter or in the stockroom. Retailers lost $31.3 billion last year due to theft and fraud, according to the 2002 National Retail Security Survey. And, while shoplifters — famous and otherwise — walked away with their share of the loot, about 31 percent, it was employees who created the most shrinkage, accounting for 45.9 percent of losses, according to the survey by the University of Florida and funded by ADT Security Services.

What can a retailer do? Melody Vargas, the retail expert at, an online information service of SCW parent Primedia Inc., says new security technologies can help. These include a sort of LoJack for merchandise — a new kind of tag that can track an item's wherabouts. Improved video recorders and self-alarming anti-theft tags also help prevent theft.

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