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External Loss Prevention

In: Other Topics

Submitted By iitmeh
Words 1368
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Brinson_Laquita Jan 24, 2013

A retail loss prevention investigator is responsible for ensuring that a company’s shrink is kept under control. Now, there are many different causes of shrink and therefore the job is multi-faceted. The first, and most recognizable, form of shrink is from external theft, or shoplifting. The loss prevention investigator is trained in surveillance techniques and how to spot odd or suspicious behavior in a customer. Once this type of behavior is identified they will follow the individual either on foot or by using the store’s cctv system to gather evidence of a crime. The second form of shrink, and most dangerous to a company’s bottom line, is internal theft. This is when an employee begins stealing money or merchandise from their employer. In a similar way to shoplifters the loss prevention investigator will observe and look for the warning signs. Once found he will then initiate an employee theft investigation. This is a means of gathering evidence of the associate’s criminal activity. Once enough evidence is acquired they will then interview the individual and pass on their recommendation to upper management. Many companies also lose money because their employees are not following policies and procedures. This reckless behavior can lead to worker’s compensation claims, lawsuits, lost or stolen merchandise, vendor fraud and, in the most extreme cases, armed robbery. Therefore it is important to perform audits and implement checks and balances on all of your processes. Make sure that your company is in compliance with all fire safety and OSHA regulations and keep an eye out for anything that could negatively affect the company’s bottom line. Making a business profitable is management’s job. Ensuring that the business remains profitable is the job of the loss prevention investigator. One of the most important roles of the loss prevention agent is his/ her ability to identify a shoplifter and subsequently apprehend that individual. Now, this sounds a lot easier than it actually is. Shoplifters generally fit into one of two categories: professional and amateur. For the professional shoplifter thievery is a business and because this is how they make their living they are subject to lash out or become violent when confronted. For the amateur shoplifting is simply a crime of opportunity. They may be slightly easier to spot, but both can potentially lead to the demise of your business if you don’t take the proper steps to stop them. Unfortunately there is no “average shoplifter”. They come in all shapes, sizes, ages, races and from any number of different backgrounds. That’s why it is essential that the loss prevention agent know what to look for when trying to identify them. If an individual spends most of their time watching the cashier, sales associates and other customers rather than actually shopping, that’s a good sign that they may be up to no good. Baggy clothes or large jacket or coats when they’re not called for is another red flag you should be watching for. Remember you don’t have to be a loss prevention agent to know that cameras aren’t allowed in restroom and fitting rooms. They shoplifters are well aware of this fact, so you need to keep a watchful eye on these areas. You may see an individual go into the fitting room with 4 items and come out with only 2, or they may enter the restroom with merchandise and come out with nothing in their hands. You still need to perform your due diligence and ensure that the merchandise wasn’t left in the room, but this is a good place for the loss prevention agent to begin his investigation. The retail industry is probably the business category with the greatest need for a loss prevention agent. The purpose of the agent, or loss prevention investigator, is to identify and resolve issues pertaining to the loss of assets – merchandise, property, cash, or any other kind of property – and to prevent such losses from occurring. Many times the value of a loss prevention agent is intangible. The true value of the agent’s value is reflected in the lack of shortage, the decrease in theft, the saving of the operational expense budget dollars through tighter controls. Actually, the fewer apprehensions of shoplifters, the fewer terminations for employee theft, the fewer procedural violations uncovered, the more successful the loss prevention investigator may be considered. There are retailers that take on the role of their own loss prevention department, or assign its responsibility to another area of the business. The fact is that the role of the loss prevention agent is highly specialized with skills developed over a wide variety of situations. It is not an area for someone without training or experience, or the results of the loss prevention program will not be optimal. But for a retailer with one or only a few locations, the addition of a loss prevention agent may not be practical. In that case, the solutions might be a partnership with a company of loss prevention consultants, who can react to immediate issues, set up a practical loss prevention program, conduct periodic audits, and track progress and measure successes. The best answer for a retailer then may be to “dip his toe in the loss prevention pool” by consulting with an expert loss prevention agent who can analyze, identify and correct procedural vulnerabilities, as well as one who possesses the skills to interview staff members and develop information that leads to the elimination of unacceptable employee behavior. And an added benefit is the training in shoplifter prevention and shortage awareness can present to all employees. The loss prevention agent is not a police officer and has different priorities. The priority of a loss prevention investigator or agent is to improve the profitability of the business through the reduction and recovery of loss. The priority of a police officer is as it should be the reduction of crime in society. It is the primary job of a loss prevention agent to apprehend shoplifters and detain them until the police arrive. At which time it is the police officer’s job to either arrest the shoplifter or issue them a citation for retail theft depending on the law in the city or town you happen to be working in. Therefore it is vital that the loss prevention agent build and maintain a working relationship with their local law enforcement agency. Over the years I have managed to establish a rapport with several great police officers who are happy to show up when called and do what needs to be done. However, I have heard a number of horror stories from others in this line of work. In certain cases I’ve been told of officers showing up and being irritated, or having an attitude, about having to arrest the subject. Others have complained about being treated like a criminal themselves by the responding officers. To this I quote the old adage you never get a second chance to make a first impression. It is vital that as a loss prevention agent you follow all of the proper steps to making an apprehension, have your facts straight and have all the necessary paperwork in order for the officer when he/ she arrives every time. See, nobody likes having to clean up somebody else’s mess including the police. If your work is shoddy and unprofessional you can expect to be treated as being unprofessional. Be confident and precise, show the proper attention to detail and before you know it a great working relationship will have been established between law enforcement and the loss prevention agent. Even if you’ve been in business for years and you’re confident that you know what a shoplifter looks like and all the tricks of the trade you may still need the services of a loss prevention consultant. See, thieves are like that fish from Darwin’s evolution theory. They constantly change and adapt to fit their environment and the challenges that they may face. Therefore, information that may have been true about shoplifters 5 years ago may be obsolete today. It’s the job of the loss prevention consultant to stay abreast of all these changes and implement a plan to combat them.

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