The best way to stop shoplifting amateurs in your business today is to catch them with an element of surprise! I remember this one case I was working a while back where we used simple EAS labels to not only apprehend but essentially embarrass a well-known shoplifter. More on that here in a minute though.
EAS (Electronic Article Surveillance) is a fundamental component of any successful loss prevention effort. It uses a bevy of physical checks and balances to ensure your product is not leaving through the front door unnoticed. The basic premise of EAS is that specific items are tagged with passive small labels (such as Checkpoint labels) that activate loud alarm systems at the front of the store. If a shoplifter tries to exit with tagged merchandise, they are exposed to staff by an exceptionally loud alarm.
Anyhow, we had this one shoplifter that kept ‘hitting’ our store. It would be an understatement to say that he was the most brazen thief I have ever come across. He was known throughout our city, across many retailer brands and most law enforcement officers had prior dealings with him. This guy was so daring (or careless) that he would literally look us dead in the eyes and dare us to do anything about him stealing. Once, he looked at me and said “I’ll (expletive) kill you”. Assuming that this shoplifter was armed with some sort of weapon, no one ever found justification enough to attempt apprehension. He would come into the store at least three times per week and virtually take anything he wanted. That is, until we waged war against him with tiny Checkpoint labels.
As it turned out, we had some external intelligence on him that led us to understand that he was selling our merchandise to an undercover police officer. Yes! It turned out that our favorite crook was the subject of a multicounty theft ring involving several stores. We didn’t know anything about it until our informant let us in on the operation. At that point, some of the detectives met with us and asked us for assistance in building a criminal case against him (and ultimately the theft ring). Since law enforcement can’t be in our stores 24/7 with us, they couldn’t find direct probable cause to indict this professional shoplifter without building more of a case. They needed for us to obtain video surveillance of him exiting the store with merchandise. Since it was ‘hit or miss’ as to whether or not he would conceal the merchandise before exiting, we decided to implement the use of EAS labels to help identify instances of theft.
Since we knew that this particular shoplifter always boosted the same products (DVD’s and music CD’s) we decided to affix Checkpoint labels inconspicuously onto each package. Additionally, we decided that over the course of a couple of weeks, we would go ahead and disable the audible alarm feature of the EAS towers at the front of the store but leave the visual flashing lights enabled. This way, the alarm would alert us visually through the flashing lights on top of the EAS pedestal but no alarm would be heard while being triggered. This essentially allowed us to build a video tapped record of this shoplifter entering and exiting the store while causing the EAS tower to visually alert. The subject would enter the store without triggering the pedestal but open exit, the lights would flash indicating that he had something concealed. Not once, did he ever notice that the lights were flashing! It’s hard to say whether or not we missed out on a lot of other shoplifter cases by disabling the audible alarm on the EAS system but in order to stop shoplifting incidents caused directly by this individual, we felt it was justified.
Altogether, we recorded a video log of this guy triggering the EAS system upon exit, a total of twelve separate occasions. The police were able to use the accumulated footage we provided to them in conjunction with purchases of the product bought by the undercover detective. It was enough to convict him and get him locked away for ten years. Somehow, the prosecutor was able to escalate the charges (by working with the US District Attorney) into a Federal case, most likely because the shoplifter was also selling our stolen merchandise across state lines. This was all credited to the use of our EAS labels placed in conspicuously onto the stolen merchandise!
For more information on how to stop shoplifting, contact us or call 1-770-426-0547.