Often, I write about ways to stop shoplifting, or ways to better use technology to prevent losses. I sincerely hope that someone out there reads what I have to say and uses it in there store to help them make more money in the form of reduced losses. Well, I don’t have any tips today. What I do have is a pretty great story out of one of my stores that show just how pervasive the shoplifting culture is and how a couple of fantastic property crime detectives recovered tens of thousands of dollars for my store.
Over the past decade with my current employer, I’ve made some great partnerships with the law enforcement community in each jurisdiction I have a store in. My theory here is that if you take care of the police, they will take care of you. Our stores are willing and able to support any investigation they may have. Whether it is a case of identity theft, vehicle burglary in the parking lot, or even a pick pocket in the store, I instruct my managers to always give the police access to anything they need to satisfy their investigation. In addition, I make sure a good portion of my community engagement budget goes to law enforcement functions in the community. That level of partnership and cooperation has benefited me tremendously with my goal to stop shoplifting. Anytime I need help with an investigation, I can pick up the phone and someone will lend a helping hand. Other times, I’ll get a case hand delivered to me. Like this week.
A few days ago, a detective I’ve known for quite some time called me with information on a shoplifting ring that was targeting one of my stores. They had very reliable information that the pair, a husband and wife had been shoplifting large quantities of merchandise from this particular store for quite a while. Through their investigation, they had discovered a storage facility that merchandise was likely being kept at, and he had already secured a search warrant for the storage unit, as well as their home. Awesome I though, but why are you calling?
He thought it’d be great to catch them in the act. He had some specific information on when they would target the store next and asked if I wanted to “ride along”. Who passes up this opportunity? So, within hours, I had an overnight bag packed and I was on my way. The lengths I go to stop shoplifting…..
The day that his source tells him arrives and we set up at the store. I arrive at the store and there are several detectives, in plain clothes all around. Like clock-work, the happy couple arrives. Immediately, they start going for all sorts of high end product. Everything they grab has a checkpoint label secured to it. Not 15 minutes later, the pair exits the store. The checkpoint labels didn’t set the alarm off, which was a surprise to me. Within seconds of their exit, they are swarmed by detectives. The female decides to run… she didn’t get that far. The weight of 15 pairs of denim jeans kept her from reaching her top speed. Her accomplice had just as many pairs, along with several watches, electronics and footwear merchandise. They were literally busting at the seams.
With warrants in hand, I had the privilege to ride along with the detectives as they busted open their storage locker. Their source had paid off big time. Inside the locker was close to 75 pairs of jeans, stacks of shoes, piles of neatly folded clothing and scores of electronic merchandise. All of it belonged to my store. When one of the detectives asked how I could be sure that the merchandise belonged to me, I pointed out that nearly every item had a checkpoint label attached to it. That label had my stores name and number printed on it.
We also discovered, once these two fine citizens got to the jail, was how they were able to defeat the EAS system. They would wear two layers of clothing. Underneath their outer garments, they wore baggier jogging type clothing. That clothing was taped around their ankles, so when they stuffed the store’s merchandise down their pants, it was secured. That second layer was also meticulously lined with aluminum foil, thus blocking the sensors from going off at the door. This just goes to show, while our efforts may not be fruitful 100%, thieves will always, eventually, get caught!
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