There’s not a month that passes where I don’t find myself in the middle of some type of external investigation. One of the most common and popular areas of my store for shoplifters is our apparel section. Generally speaking, the bulk of our merchandise does not have a clothing security tag affixed to them. We reserved the tags for merchandise above a certain dollar limit. This helps us reduce shrink on low margin items, as well as reducing the security budget, which ultimately eats into your gross margin anyway.
The great thing about the clothing security tags is that you can identify your product very easily from a CCTV monitor. An often overlooked theft scheme in some retailers is the “price-swap”. It’s a very simple scam and is easily conducted with apparel merchandise, since the barcodes are usually held in place with a simple plastic thread. A thief will remove the higher priced barcode and replace it with the barcode of a lesser priced item. If your cashier isn’t trained to spot the difference, or is just inattentive, a thief can buy higher dollars items at quite a bargain!
A while back I was researching some suspicious refund transactions by this individual, we’ll call Bob. Bob, over the course of 3 weeks had made several returns at various store locations of high priced camouflaged pants. These particular pants retailed for $149. The company I worked for carried a wide selection of hunting apparel, so at first a few returns didn’t really raise any red flags. Over time, though, we started to see a pattern with Bob. He would return the expensive stuff, then use the store credit to purchase the cheaper brands. This didn’t make a lot of sense to me, since there was a pattern to his actions. I began looking into Bob a little further and realized he was price switching the pants.
I don’t care who you are, or how much of an expert you think you are on a product line, but it is near impossible to tell one pair of camouflaged pants from another when looking at the CCTV on a register. I needed to prove what he was doing, but was having some difficulty isolating when a theft had occurred. I asked a colleague of mine for assistance, since he had a great deal more experience than I had at the time. After reviewing a few of Bob’s purchases, my colleague pointed out the Checkpoint Tag on a pair of pants during one of Bob’s purchases. Those Checkpoint Tags were reserved for items over $99. After looking at the receipt, I saw where Bob had only paid $12.99 for the pants. I was pretty excited that I was able to make my case. I was able to prove that my shoplifter was purchasing the items at a lesser price, then returning them for full value.
While the clothing alarm device didn’t stop Bob from stealing the pants, it did assist me in my investigation. Without the tags, I would have never been able to make this case and ultimately have Bob arrested. It was a lesson I learned early on in my career, and is still a training tool I use today when speaking with cashiers.
For more information, contact us: Clothing Security, or call 1.770.426.0547