I was reading with interest today about the return of the great “pant steak” capers. No, a pant steak is not a special cut of meat like a flatiron. It is the old shoplifter scheme where someone stuffs a pack of T-bones down their pants and heads for the door. Grocers have suffered from this brazen technique for years and often retailers would forgive and allow the person to take the steaks, thinking that they were trying to feed a hungry family (Steaks? Really? What about some cold cuts?). The interesting part of this article was that shoplifters in Austin, Texas would then sell the meet to local unsuspecting bar-b-que restaurants where it would end up on your plate. The local authorities didn’t appreciate that as much as I wouldn’t. This also started me thinking. Why couldn’t some good old retail theft prevention strategy help alleviate some of this problem?
Others have already thought of the solution but it is important to revisit it since meat prices are increasing, even causing cattle rustling to make a reappearance as a favorite criminal pastime. Many grocery stores already have electronic article surveillance such as the Checkpoint security system to stop shoplifting. The EAS could be incorporated into Checkpoint labels that are visible to the consumer as well as hidden Checkpoint tags inserted inside the meat package. The shoplifter might tear off the label but think nothing of the Checkpoint tag being inside the package. When he or she goes to leave your store, bells and whistles announce his or her crime to the world.
This will not only thwart the shoplifter who tries to make a “pants steak” but also the shoplifter who stuffs it into her purse or grabs it and puts it into a paid bag of groceries. Equally as important, it will also act as strong retail theft prevention for your employees taking your meat packages home without paying for them. The key is to keep the number of people who know on a “need to know, right to know” basis as you do all your retail theft prevention strategies that are covert in nature.
I have not worked retail grocery loss prevention; however, I have worked as a police officer who used to respond to these shoplifting incidents when they were very common. Stores that had these issues did not leverage their retail theft prevention strategies to the fullest, such as the utilization of Checkpoint security system and Checkpoint tags. They were fortunate to catch the shoplifting by observations of other customers or their own floor staff. The shoplifter would often sing the tale of woe, trying to get the empathy of the manager, saying that he or she was stealing to feed his or her family. Almost without fail, we would find that they had the money in their pocket to pay for it or were going to sell it or had also shoplifted beer or cigarettes as well (everyone knows they go with steak). It took some education of the managers before they figured out that most people who were fighting to feed their families would not steal to do it and would find other ways.
I give that little short primer on motivation just so we understand and agree that shoplifting meat and food is still shoplifting and is also subject to organized retail crime. Just ask those Austin bar-b-que restaurants who were cited for improperly sourcing their meat. In writing this, I also wanted to just remind retailers as well as myself that the Checkpoint security system can be used in a variety of applications outside of what comes to mind immediately. We must think wide and far to determine new ways to use Checkpoint tags to protect our merchandise of all kinds. Hmm…cattle rustling…are you thinking what I am thinking?
For more information about the Checkpoint security system, contact us or call 1-770-426-0547 or www.antishoplifting.net