Lend Me Your Ear I Have Something To Say About Sensormatic Tags
When you stop shoplifting you are taking a bite out of crime to steal a phrase from McGruff. Unfortunately it seems things were the other way around when a shoplifter took a bite of a Loss Prevention Associate’s ear not too long ago. The story was an article in LPM Insider magazine, on October 31, 2018, titled “Accused Shoplifter Bites Off LP Associates Ear”, citing their source as The News Tribune. The story reports that a shoplifting suspect and two friends were being watched by the Associate. The suspect is reported to have taken two polo shirts and entered a fitting room. He was alleged to have folded them up and hidden them under his jacket. The article reports that the Associate stopped the suspect who was accompanied by his friends as they left the store. Apparently the situation became physical and the Associate got the suspect to the ground when the two friends started hitting the Associate. During the altercation the suspect bit the Loss Prevention Associate’s ear lobe taking off a piece in the process. The Associate was able to have the piece of ear stitched back on and the suspect was arrested and put in jail. The story reported that no information was given about the retail store itself or the names of any of the persons involved in the incident. Having been involved in my own fair share of scuffles and being bitten myself (as was one of my own Associates during an apprehension he initiated) I know how quickly a shoplifting incident can escalate. This is why it is so important to use Sensormatic tags on clothing and other merchandise to stop shoplifting from happening in the first place.
While the article does not state it I am going to assume that the retail store where this theft took place was not using anti-theft devices on the merchandise or at least not on all of their merchandise. If this is true then they are way behind the curve. The use of Sensormatic tags and other anti-theft devices is proven to be effective at reducing theft. If you take a look at the 2015 Global Retail Theft Barometer for North American retailers, apparel specialty stores saw an increase in retail shortage from .60% in 2013-14 to 2.28% in 2014-2015 (pg. 52). During this period the spending on Loss Prevention as a percent of total sales decreased from .39% to .24% (pg. 57). This information includes all Loss Prevention spending but I do believe it is safe to say that electronic article surveillance is a big part of this. I also found an interesting statistic on the pricegun.com website from an infographic chart, “Shoplifting is America’s #1 Property Crime”. The chart shows that stores that use visible cameras were shoplifted at 70% of the time while stores that use ink tags drop down to 27% and radio frequency tags are even less at 20%. I urge all retailers not just clothing store owners to look at Sensormatic tags and systems as an investment in reducing losses and saving money rather than an expense center that costs the store money.
Would the use of electronic article surveillance tags prevented the Loss Prevention Associate from being bitten? It is quite possible they would have stopped the incident before it took place (assuming they were not in use at this location). I have found that in many cases a shoplifter steals because they believe the opportunity presents itself and if no security tags are on an item there is no immediate deterrent at work. There is a slight chance that the merchandise had tags and the thief was committed to stealing the items anyways because he had his buddies with him but it is an unlikely scenario. Most crooks, especially opportunists don’t want to chance being caught and they know the tags will cause an alarm system to activate.
Altercations with shoplifters can be dangerous as evidenced in the story about the Associate and his confrontation. Proper training on how to stop shoplifting provided by Loss Prevention Systems, Inc. (LPSI) and the use of Sensormatic tags and pedestals can help to minimize unnecessary risks to store employees. Contact LPSI to learn more about how you can keep your workers safe and take a bite out of crime at the same time.
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