Clothing Security Is No Laughing Matter But Shoplifters Can Be

Early in my Loss Prevention career a lot of my work focused on clothing security. I worked in a department store so we were constantly catching shoplifters stealing clothes from all departments. While we did have bedding, housewares and accessories departments, clothing always seemed to occupy most of our time. Frequently this led to some very interesting stories, not so much due to the merchandise being stolen but the actions of the shoplifter when confronted. 


 One time a had a rather large woman who was in the Women’s department and she was doing all the things to that make Loss Prevention officers know that a theft is going to happen. The woman was looking at the ceiling for cameras, and she was selecting merchandise without regard to size. She did take the time to remove hang tags because in my opinion, she may have thought there were security tags on clothes or on the hang tags. This customer was carrying a large purse and began filling it up. After she was done she began walking towards a set of exit doors going into our parking lot. I stopped the woman, identified myself and began escorting her to our security office. As I was about halfway to our first floor security office walking through the Women’s department, the shoplifter pulled away from me. Rather than run out of the store as most shoplifters would do, this woman began knocking over clothing racks. I called on the radio for our operator to call the police. In the meantime I stood in the main aisle and watched as this shoplifter was flinging metal 4-way racks and round racks around the department, clothing flying. The store Operations Manager came up to me and was shocked as I was casually observing the scene. In an agitated tone of voice he asked me if I was going to do anything about it. I looked at him and I looked at her as she was tossing racks like toys and told him, “No”. I then explained that the police were on the way, and we would charge her with damage to property but she wasn’t going anywhere so I would let the police restrain her. Well, police arrived and the woman was arrested and no one was hurt, except perhaps, the Operation Manager’s pride. In this case, customer and employee safety took precedence over clothing security. Oh and the fixtures? Turns out they were fine, just a lot of clothes to pick up.


In another incident I had a shoplifter walk into our Polo department, pull a black garbage bag out of his pocket and then quickly load it with Polo shirts from a display table. The shoplifter threw the bag over his shoulder like Santa Claus and he walked towards the doors. In those days the electronic article surveillance antennas were not as good as they are today and merchandise could be lifted high enough that any security tags on clothes would not activate the alarm. I attempted to stop the shoplifter as he exited the building and he ran from me and no, he didn’t drop his bag. At that time we were allowed to chase shoplifters and I chased this thief several blocks and lost him. Police were on foot helping to try to locate him. I should also mention, we live in a tourist area and we have a number of small local restaurant/bars near this area, close to the beach. The search was becoming fruitless until a waitress on the patio/bar of one restaurant saw me at the front of their business and the police at the back. She asked if I was looking for a tall gentleman carrying a black trash bag. I confirmed I was and she had me follow her to the kitchen. My “friend” was peeking out the back door watching the police look for him. I snuck up behind him and tackled him and the police saw us both tumble out of the building. They finished the arrest and over $500.00 of Polo shirts were recovered. The arrest was fun, but the looks on the restaurant customers and kitchen workers was priceless. 


Today clothing security has made vast improvements in both tags and EAS systems. Security tags on clothes come in a variety of styles and are nearly impossible to tamper with and defeat. EAS antenna fields have improved and have expanded the distance from which they can read tags.  Look into what clothing security tags can do for your company.


Clothing security is important and we can help you with it. Call 1.770.426.0547 and let’s talk.


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