Costco Shoplifting Policy [Charges, Security Cameras & More]

How does Costco prevent theft from happening? In this guide, we'll answer that and other questions about Costco shoplifting policy.

Costco is by far one of the largest retailers around the world today. They offer fair prices on a huge variety of products. The store’s large range of products means they need a solid system in place to prevent shoplifting from happening and to protect the items they sell.

With that being the case, what exactly are Costco’s shoplifting policies, how are they preventing theft from happening, and do they have loss prevention in place?

To find the answers to all of these questions and more, we did some research, and in this article, we will share everything we found with you.

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What Is Costco’s Shoplifting Policy In 2023?

Hobart Circa May 2018: Costco Wholesale Location. Costco Wholesale is a Multi Billion Dollar Global Retailer IV

Costco has many different loss prevention methods in place at their warehouses. These methods prevent and deal with shoplifting and theft if, or when it occurs. Costco utilizes security cameras, security guards, and loss prevention workers to protect its inventory and its customers.

Costco warehouses routinely check receipts at store exits, especially if an alarm is triggered. Lastly, Costco will almost always prosecute any shoplifters they are caught.

Is There Any Theft At Costco?

The obvious answer is yes. Pretty much every store plans for and deals with theft each year, and Costco is no exception. They deal with theft every day. Shoplifting and employee theft result in inventory shrinkage. This equates to about 0.12% of Costco’s annual sales and reduces their profit.

However, this percentage is greatly below the average that stores normally experience, which is around 1.62% of reported shrinkage. This means that Costco’s shoplifting policies are incredibly effective.

How Does Costco Discourage Shoplifting?

Man hides bottle of alcohol under his shirt

Costco employs several different ways to discourage and prevent shoplifting and theft, all while considering the safety of the customers and employees in-store. Costco notably pays its employees well above minimum wage at an average of $24 per hour. This aids in employee satisfaction and makes employees less likely to try and steal from the store, effectively minimizing internal thefts by employees.

To minimize theft coming from employees, Costco conducts background checks.

The most pronounced method in which Costco discourages customer theft is through their membership business model. The company is able to control who enters their store by making sure almost everyone coming in has a valid membership.

It is easier to keep a record of who is shopping in-store and that prevents shoplifting to quite a large extent. Costco also always goes over your receipt at the door, before leaving.

Does Costco Have Loss Prevention In-store?

Yes, Costco provides in-store loss prevention in several ways. The company tends to put smaller items that are more likely to be a target of theft into bigger packaging, which makes stealing from Costco much more difficult. Some items require you to bring a card to checkout and exchange the card for the product you are trying to purchase. 

The store’s layout also plays a huge role in loss prevention. The layout is intentionally not elaborate and keeps the inventory in mind. Each Costco warehouse has only one entrance and one main exit, both of which are constantly monitored and checked for valid memberships and completed purchases.

Lastly, memberships allow employees to know exactly who is shopping in-store at all times, which helps to keep everyone safe.

Does Costco Employ Loss Prevention Workers?

Costco employs agents and managers in its loss prevention department to minimize in-store theft. These employees work in the warehouses and are responsible for preventing, discovering, and catching any shoplifters in-store. They also refer to the local law enforcement to handle any incidents that do happen.

Beyond this, they are required to report any cases of theft to the Costco Warehouse Manager and Costco’s Regional Loss Prevention Manager.

Does Costco Have Cameras?

Security Camera

Costco does have security cameras in each of their warehouses. They use the cameras to help monitor the store and aid in loss prevention. Some stores also set up CCTV at the checkouts to make sure that there are no attempts of theft near the exit of the store.

Security cameras in-store are routinely monitored every minute throughout the day. Some warehouses also set up security cameras in their parking lots. These cameras not only help to keep watch for any potential theft incidents but can also aid in tracking suspects down if a theft does occur. Not only that, but they help to ensure the safety of everyone in the warehouse.

Why Does Costco Employ Security Guards?

Costco has security guards to keep its customers and employees safe. The security guards deal and discourage thefts in-store. They are able to monitor who comes in and leaves. They also keep an eye on the inventory in the store. Costco sometimes has guards who pose as shoppers to better detect if anyone is shoplifting.

Security guards are an important part of preventing and dealing with thefts as they are properly trained and more prepared than an average employee to deal with these incidents, some of which may become violent.

Why Does Costco Always Check Your Receipt At The Door?

If you’ve ever shopped at a Costco, you know to have your receipt out when leaving, because the company needs to make sure that your purchase was processed correctly. This is a practice that may seem frustrating, but it is for your own benefit, as they are ensuring you were not over or undercharged during check out.

They also look at your items and compare them to what is listed on your receipt. Most just do a visual scan of what is in your cart, but some stores will go as far as emptying your cart into a separate cart to ensure what you have matches what is on the receipt.

What Happens If You Shoplift From Costco?

Costco store 3

There are strict consequences for anyone who attempts to shoplift from Costco. If you are caught shoplifting from Costco, you will be detained in the back of the store. Security or loss prevention will contact the police if the incident is serious enough, and they will then arrest you for theft.

If it is considered a petty theft, Costco may require you to pay them the amount owed and give you a strict warning. However, that is very rare, and, often, you aren’t given a warning and your membership is revoked. Some employees are said to be rude to possible shoplifters.

A shoplifter will be charged with a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the value of the item they were trying to steal and any prior convictions they may have. Any employees caught stealing will be charged with embezzlement and fired immediately.

Finally, if you are caught shoplifting at Costco, you will have your membership permanently revoked and be banned from Costco for shoplifting indefinitely. If you are an employee who is caught stealing, your executive membership will be revoked and you will be terminated on the spot.


Costco utilizes stringent policies with consistent consequences when it comes to shoplifting and theft. The company monitors who enters and exits their warehouse through their membership and checks purchases upon leaving.

Each warehouse is set up with loss prevention measures, such as security cameras and a useful store layout, and has staff, like security guards, which monitor the floors and handle any possible incidents that may happen. These measures make Costco’s shoplifting policies incredibly effective and help keep stores safe for customers and employees.

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Arthur Beringer

Arthur graduated in 2002 with a Master's in Business Administration from LSU Alexandria. After working in the retail industry for almost 20 years, he decided to quit and write full-time to help readers who are searching online for consumer-related answers.