Along with retail theft prevention how important is the safety of your store? I’m not referring to accidents I am referring to safety from violent incidents. Not long ago there was an incident in the building where I work. An employee’s teenage child overheard a conversation among three people who were preparing to leave the building. There was a comment that they were going to “get” someone. The employee’s daughter reported the conversation and the staff contacted the police who stopped the group in the parking lot. I heard that two of our staff members decided to leave the building to “see if they could see where the group went”. I learned that the two employees went out through different exits. Had one of these employees walked upon the group there is no telling whether an encounter might have escalated. Two people are always better than one since there is strength in numbers. If they felt it was important to leave the building to protect someone, or to see where the group was heading they should have left together. In retail Loss Prevention when we stopped a suspected shoplifter we tried to have a witness with us. It is even good practice to have a witness when responding to an electronic article surveillance (EAS) security system alarm (when possible). When two or more people are working together it makes it easier to address someone who may be upset or trying to steal.
It is important to know how an EAS security system works in order to understand why it is good practice to have two people respond to an alarm. The EAS system is a retail theft prevention system composed of electronic article surveillance tags attached to merchandise, detachment devices and towers located near entrance/exit doors. EAS tags can be attached to a variety of product lines since they come in adhesive label form or hard tag designs. Detuning pads and detachment devices are kept at the store registers to remove or “turn off” tags AFTER a piece of merchandise is scanned at the register. The towers are big receivers that can sense when a EAS tag is in its field of detection. The vast majority of alarms take place when a shoplifter is trying to sneak merchandise out of the store. A trained employee responds to alarms and conducts a check of the receipt to determine what caused the alarm. It is the possible responses of the “customer” that can make it better to have a second person respond to an alarm.
When a customer causes an EAS alarm there are several reactions I have encountered over my 27+ years in retail. The first reaction is surprise for the alarm. This customer may have merchandise in their shopping cart that was overlooked by the cashier. They may have merchandise from another store that uses similar retail theft protection devices and merchandise was not deactivated there. A good employee can take care of these customers easily and get them on their way. Another reaction is the shocked patron who gets irritated at the inconvenience of the alarm. It makes no difference if it was their fault for overlooking an item or they have merchandise from another business this customer is going to have an attitude. The employee who responds to this customer must be tactful and ready to apologize for the inconvenience of the alarm especially if it is determined it was a cashier’s error. Having a second person nearby as a witness is good in these situations. I have encountered customers who decided to use it to cause a scene despite my apology and attempt to “correct” the error. Your witness in this case can validate that every effort was made not to embarrass or inconvenience the patron. Finally there is the real shoplifter trying to steal merchandise by getting it past the EAS security system. They don’t want to be in the store too long and they still want to get the merchandise out. If one person responds the shoplifter may attempt to intimidate and threaten violence if they aren’t allowed to leave. When two employees are present the shoplifter may be loud but they tend to be less threatening. By the way, if you aren’t sure how to handle these situations or want help on retail theft prevention Loss Prevention Systems Inc. offers several training classes that you will find helpful.
It is unfortunate but today in retail the threat of violence is something every store owner has to be concerned with. Being aware of how to de-escalate situations and having a witness to customer/employee interactions is always a good idea when possible. Prevent shortage with a EAS security system and get training from Loss Prevention Systems Inc. on how to stop shoplifting and properly respond to system alarms.
Get more information on retail theft prevention, contact us or call 1.770.426.0547 today.