No matter what time of year it is, you can find me on the lake at least once or twice a month. My grandpa got me hooked on fishing when I was very young, and even as an adult I can’t wait to get out on the water. Nothing beats getting up before dawn, grabbing my fishing pole and being the only soul for miles in the middle of a still body of water. It’s a thing of beauty. I’m convinced that sometimes if I turn my head really fast, I can catch a glimpse of my grandpa sitting next to me with his rod and reel. This is another reason I love my job so much.
As a LP Manager for a sporting goods store, I not only get to catch bad guys, I get to play around with all the stuff I love. One thing that took me by surprise in this job is how often fishing poles are stolen. Yes, stolen. Not the typical stuff down your pants product, but I’ve seen some very clever ways to steal a rod, even with the merchandise secured with an O-Tag.
Last summer, after inventories were conducted, we noticed some pretty high shrink in a particular sku. It retailed for $199 and all three of my stores were missing anywhere between 5 and 10 units. This product is shipped directly to the store and is received in by a manager, so there wasn’t any way that it never made it to the store. After searching the backrooms and warehouses for a few days, I resigned myself to the fact that they had been stolen. But how? How on Earth could you steal a fishing rod and nobody notice? Furthermore, how could you get out the front doors without the O-Tag alarming the EAS towers? I was perplexed, and out of ideas. Unless there was a band of super tall thieves who could very easily conceal them in their pants…
Unfortunately, there were no pack of giant shoplifters. I did however find some very clever thieves though. After some investigating, I found how they were getting the poles out of the store. A shoplifter would come into the store and purchase one of the fishing poles. The cashier would remove the EAS device and the customer would quickly exit the store after tending payment. He would place the product in his car and rush back inside and grab a second pole. He would approach the supervisor, with his receipt and say that the cashier had forgotten to remove the tag. My supervisor would then happily remove the O-Tag for him and he would exit the store with 2 for the price of one. This went on for weeks. This guy had a system and he was very convincing. He was eventually caught when he got too greedy.
This was a great training lesson for my stores and an even better lesson for me. No matter how much we invest in training, or in product security, someone will be out there thinking just as hard on how to defeat those system.
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