Sometimes there is a misperception of Loss Prevention Associates as being insensitive or eager to put people in jail. I have heard us referred to as “wanna-be-cops”. In this article I want to address some of those misperceptions. Many retail theft prevention professionals have law enforcement backgrounds. I personally had 4 years of experience as a United States Air Force Law Enforcement Specialist. During my career in Loss Prevention I worked with two retired State Troopers, at least two prior military police that I am aware of and I hired two men and a woman with law enforcement experience while I was a Loss Prevention Manager. So, the suggestion that we are or were “wanna-be’s” can be put to rest, I would call many of us, “been there-done that’s”. Working to stop shoplifting and using retail theft prevention tools like a Checkpoint Security System is a different experience for us. While we can use some of our skill sets in the job, like interviewing suspects or safely apprehending thieves, we also get to train employees on shortage prevention and making a business profitable.
Law Enforcement and Retail Loss Prevention have their own sets of tools to get their respective jobs accomplished. Law Enforcement has dispatchers, jailers, patrol cars, weapons, investigation divisions, traffic divisions, etc. In Loss Prevention we work with digital camera systems, store exception reports, sales reports, and Checkpoint Systems and all of those components that make them up. Checkpoint tags, alarm pedestals and deactivation pads are used to deter theft from taking place and identifying theft when someone does attempt to steal merchandise. We make sure tags are properly placed on items so the bad guys see them and choose NOT to try to bother with the items in the first place. Proper placement also ensures they will be difficult to defeat or tamper with, again deterring theft from happening. We test the Checkpoint equipment to be sure that tags are properly deactivating and alarm pedestals are receiving tag signals as designed. Hardware issues are reported to Checkpoint Systems so a remote check can be made or a technician can be dispatched depending on the problem. IF we are doing our jobs well, we are deterring theft first and when necessary we catch crooks and stop shoplifting second.
I mentioned there is a train of thought that we are “insensitive” and we are just out to put people in jail who are stealing because they “needed” something or “couldn’t help it”. No, we are not insensitive. In the course of my career I had to call many mothers and fathers to pick up their youngster for shoplifting. I could have turned them over to the police to be handled in the juvenile courts but I also was aware of the problems a juvenile record could cause for a youth. Try placing the call to the single mother who is at work, trying to make ends meet and you have to ask her to leave work and come to the store to pick up her child who was supposed to be home right after school. I can’t recall the number of times I had a parent I caught shoplifting while they had their child with them. I would try to get them to call for someone to pick up the child before the police came so the child wouldn’t have to see the parent handcuffed or the child taken into protective care by the police. Insensitive were the parents who wouldn’t make that call or allow me to do it for them. It is quite an experience to respond to Checkpoint systems alarms and a mom has a baby stroller loaded with an infant and hidden merchandise with Checkpoint tags on them, all tucked under a blanket inside.
I also don’t recall many shoplifters I caught who needed the jewelry they had stolen and placed in a pocket. I recall the mother and son tearing Checkpoint tags from clothing and filling shopping bags so they could resell the merchandise. I don’t think they really needed them. I can’t forget the intoxicated golfer who stole underwear and when I got him to the office he had $300.00 cash in his pocket. No, the idea that most shoplifters steal because they “need” the stuff is false.
Hopefully this article has helped shed some light on the true professionalism of Loss Prevention associates. Our goal is retail theft prevention and helping stores to be profitable through the use of Checkpoint systems, deterrence, the apprehension of shoplifters and ongoing store employee training.
Retail Theft Prevention is important and we can help you with it. Call 1.866.914.2567 and let’s talk.