I have been working in retail for a very long time and much of that was in Loss Prevention where I would prevent shoplifting. I recently read an article in an online magazine about the thoughts readers had on a video of a teenager and Loss Prevention Associate in a physical altercation. Many of the readers felt that the Loss Prevention Agent was at least partially to blame. Now I am going to add my two cents to this issue but I want to make something clear first. Though I have been involved in altercations in my Loss Prevention Career and in MOST of the altercations there was no use of retail anti-theft devices such as Keepers to protect the merchandise from being stolen. My career dates back to 1990 when we were not using many protective devices on merchandise though they were available in limited designs. The department store I worked for had few guidelines for L.P. Associates so I was generally free to do what was necessary to catch the bud guy (or gal). If someone chose to struggle or I felt they might flee I could grab a fistful of shirt or a belt to control the suspect. If a thief chose to fight there was no requirement for us to be punching bags or throw up our hands and say maybe I’ll get you next time. Drop the merchandise and we might let you run off. We could also be reasonably sure the police were going to be at our store within minutes of a call for assistance. Later, when I was a Loss Prevention Manager for another company we had more restrictions but we were not required to have to let someone go if they assaulted us. We had by this time begun to use more protective devices including Keepers for open display video game software.
I know most of you are familiar with the retail anti-theft devices on the market but you may not know about Keepers. Keepers are clear, hard plastic boxes with locking lids. Inside the lid is the heart of the unit that communicates with the electronic article surveillance towers stores install at their entrances and exits. A Keeper box triggers the sensor in the surveillance towers when it is carried in the detection range of the towers. The other key component is the tamper alarm for the box if a shoplifter tried to force it open. Both alarms are loud enough to draw the attention of store workers who respond and prevent shoplifting and recover merchandise through customer service and/or receipt checks. My first experience with these devices made me a believer as I saw dramatic decreases of shortage in video games we placed on open endcap displays.
I do have my thoughts on the question posed in the article and they are mixed. There was a time I would have absolutely had no qualms about Loss Prevention employees using force to prevent crooks from getting away. I would say I now am in favor of a measured response. To tie the hands of trained Loss Prevention Associates and have an absolute 100% hands-off policy is asking for trouble. I am convinced that once that policy is in place your efforts to prevent shoplifting will be almost useless unless you are aggressively using retail anti-theft devices. You must also ensure employees are trained on quick responses to EAS alarms and how to conduct THOROUGH receipt and bag checks.
Keepers and other devices will deter the shoplifter who is acting on a whim. Those who are professionals or aggressive will not be deterred in your store and will ignore attempts to stop them and should an employee try to stand in front of them they will shove their way past. The word will get out about your policy and it will be taken advantage of. What will your policy be if an employee is shoved? Are you going to allow the police to be called? Some stores won’t. Are you going to file a police report for shoplifting? Many do not and even if you want to can you tell the police what was stolen? My position is that I don’t want an altercation but the current trend of throwing up hands and allowing thieves to walk all over stores is foolish.
All of the above said, a hands off policy is probably the best option for a store with no L.P. staff. Whether you allow some contact or no contact you still need to prevent theft of DVD’s, CD’s, video games and more with Keepers. Keep your merchandise safe and more importantly your staff safe and Keepers will help do both.
Get more information on Keepers, contact us or call 1.866.914.2567 today