No Joking Around, A Checkpoint System Is A Theft Prevention Tool Not A Toy
Pranks can be fun, I mean let’s face it who doesn’t get a laugh when a good practical joke works and no one is injured or hurt and the joke does not cause embarrassment that makes someone uncomfortable. Television shows like “Candid Camera” used to be extremely funny as the poor victim would be set up and the joke plays out and most people when the camera is pointed out to them would start to laugh. Of course when pranks go too far feelings can be hurt injuries happen or worse someone is placed in a position where they don’t want to go to work anymore. Occasionally Loss Prevention officers can play pranks too, usually with each other and they will hide Checkpoint Tags somewhere on a co-worker’s person or in a laptop bag. It can be funny, especially if the victim is known to be a little “uptight” all of the time. I would never admit to being a party to such a gag when I was younger, I will only say that I have heard of such things taking place. Of course the funny part is when the victim exits through the Checkpoint Security System pedestals and the alarm is activated. The victim is looking around for the cause of the alarm knowing they should be responding to it until they realize everyone is looking at them. Do this to someone who lacks humor and they can get all discombobulated…so I’ve heard.
I realize there are readers who may not know what Checkpoint Tags are so I will take a moment to describe them. They are anti-shoplifting devices that are placed on merchandise to deter and prevent theft of goods. While they may take a variety of forms, some are adhesive labels and others are hard tags that are pinned on clothing, they all operate on radio frequency signals. The tags are designed to emit a specific radio frequency and this signal is picked up by a Checkpoint Security System pedestal(s) usually set up near store entrances and exits. When tagged items are carried too close to pedestals a loud audible alarm sounds alerting store personnel of a problem, often a shoplifter attempting to get out with stolen merchandise. Store associates trained to respond to alarms conduct receipt checks and find the cause of the alarm and handle the situation as they have been appropriately taught to do.
While pulling such gags on co-workers may seem fun and harmless there can be unintended consequences. Aside from potentially angering a co-worker, there is the alarm itself. If the alarm activates while a customer is exiting at the same time, they are not aware of the cause and may become defensive. While a store has the right to ask for a receipt from a customer who sets off the alarm, failing to respond to alarms and/or making false accusations based on an electronic article surveillance (EAS) activation can result in a customer complaint or in an extreme case a lawsuit. If a customer says they were embarrassed because of a false alarm a situation can escalate. This is why it is so important to treat EAS alarm activations seriously and to understand that a Checkpoint Security System is a tool to drive down shortage, not a toy to amuse employees. In the same way that closed circuit television recording should be handled in a secure, professional manner and never as a source of amusement, anti-shoplifting tools should receive the same care.
I know that people are human and prone to doing silly things sometimes. Even Loss Prevention professionals can make silly decisions. Just remember, when the temptation hits you to pull a gag avoid using retail theft prevention tools such as your Checkpoint Tags or any other company property for that matter. I encourage everyone to have fun at work and enjoy what you do, just be smart about how you do it and ensure it would never cause harm or embarrassment to another person or to your employer.
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