Shoplifting and Loss Prevention: Do We Need a Fresh Look

Traditional protection against losses does not work. If it were working, the retail sector would still not experience losses of $35 million or more a day. If it worked, shop owners and store managers wouldn’t go through security and loss reduction officers or the security firms they serve like the free samples they frequently give out to clients. Safety consultants and loss prevention firms will not continually search for new accounts or clash with their accounts.Learn more by visiting Toronto Security Company

Shoplifting is one of the most uncovered and unreported crimes. In many markets , stock management is so poor that few retailers know how many products they lose to the shoplifters or their own employees. Statistically, because shrinkage reaches 2-3 per cent of the products sold, retailers pay no attention to shoplifting. There are also financial incentives for managers to maximise the contribution to the bottom line. The incentives they earn are also dependent on profit margins and it can be a drain on income to pay for security services. In a corporate world powered by profit, managers are continually under pressure to justify expenditures.

Retailers have spent millions on solving the shoplifting epidemic. In an attempt to capture the shoplifter, they invest in cameras and surveillance devices, and recruit plainclothes officers or uniformed officers. Our personal experience has taught us that the impression of many retailers is that if shoplifters are not caught and prosecuted, then the protection firm does not do its job. In the minds of many store managers and executives arrests are a positive consequence. It is justifiable evidence that the money they invest on avoidance of losses really pays off and there is a whiff in the air as a result of that. Often there is an unspoken assumption against the loss prevention / security officer, which goes something like this: “If you don’t make arrests, you don’t have to do your work. If you don’t do your work, why do we pay you?”

Let’s think for a moment, beyond the box. Would store managers and administrators know it if there was a way of effectively deterring shoplifters, and officers were good at it? After all, if the “reduction” aspect of loss prevention is effective, there will be very few arrests. Indeed, if the officer does the job well they’ll make less arrests and have less confrontations; not more. We urge retail managers and administrators to take the time to truly understand the shoplifting issue, as well as the security officer’s legal and safety challenges in any contact they have with a customer or potential shoplifter.

Good security firms are hard to find but they appreciate their market from those who excel. They recruit good officers, use sound methods, properly train their officers and handle staff to the best of their abilities. Unfortunately the “way we’ve always been doing it” retains much of their capabilities. The loss prevention officer, instead of being a partner in deterring robbery, becomes a necessary evil. Sometimes, the officer is disdained by the retailers who hired them, but is expected to minimise liability and curb fraud.