When you’ve been in the loss prevention business long enough, you tend to develop a sixth sense about the people around you. Of course, despite that sixth sense, nothing can be done without solid proof that there is actually a problem. For me, the Alpha Jewel Lok was that solid proof when nothing else could be found.
I once had an associate in my handbag department. She was, really, a great associate. She was personable, professional, productive and extremely knowledgeable about the merchandise she was selling. She moved up from a part time sales associate to a full time specialist very quickly. She was a manager’s dream. I can’t really explain what it was about her that put me on edge and, for the longest time, I had convinced myself that I was wrong about her and that she really was just as great as she seemed.
Eventually we began having excessive shortages in costume jewelry. We used Alpha Jewel Loks (small Alpha tags made specifically for small items such as jewelry and watches that activate an alarm when tampered with or taken through a checkpoint) on anything over $50 but, despite that, merchandise just kept disappearing. I spent hours upon days, upon weeks, sitting at the cameras, watching the customer activity in the department, never once seeing anything concerning. I decided to make the department my spring focus. I wrote out an extensive internal game plan and began investigating the only other venue I could think of. Part of that game plan was to conduct “fact finding” interviews with the associates in that department. The interviews were fairly basic and non-accusatory. The tone of the conversation was simply “you’re trending very high on the shortage spectrum. Do you know why?” No one in that particular department seemed to know. Many answered external theft but I had already ruled that out. A few pointed to shipping/receiving errors. I had ruled that out as well. One associate pointed out that, being the holiday season, a lot of departments were working short and had to have associates from other departments cover lunches. This made the overall business difficult to control. “Too many hands in the pot.” So, I moved my investigation to the next department over and the first name on my list was that of the handbag associate I had been unsure of. Her interview went well. She did not give any indication that she was being dishonest. She, also, seemed to genuinely not know where the merchandise was disappearing to.
Feeling defeated, I wondered back to my office, shut the door, and stared at the cameras. What had I missed? I focused on the costume jewelry and watched a lady try on a couple of different necklaces. She seemed to be searching for something to match a pair of earrings that she had brought in with her. Apparently there was no one in the department to help her so she wandered over to the handbag register and approached the associate I had just interviewed not ten minutes earlier. I zoomed in to watch the interaction and that’s when it caught my eye. It was an Alpha Jewel Lok, peeking out from under the associate’s hair. The small, hard, white tag was in obvious contrast to her dark, auburn hair. It was attached to a crystal necklace wrapped around the associate’s neck. I continued to observe the associate throughout her shift. She went on through the rest of the evening acting like nothing was going on and, at quitting time, she clocked out, grabbed her purse and her coat and headed straight towards the associate exit. The associate exit did not have a checkpoint. There would be no alarms activated upon exit. My heart began to race as she walked down the dark hallway that, luckily, my office was right at the end of. She could turn left to visit me or she could turn right to leave the building. She turned right and put her hand on the door. I stopped her from leaving, of course, and conducted a second, on the spot, interview. She admitted to taking multiple items over a one month period. Each time she wore the jewelry out as it was and removed the anti-theft device when she got home. Alpha Jewel Loks are great external theft deterrents, but who would have thought they would be so great at deterring internal theft as well?
For more information about Alpha Jewel Loks contact us or call 1.770.426.0547