You may think that shoplifters are the only people making clothing disappear from your store without paying for it, but there could be other sinister individuals that are making your profits dwindle away, leaving you wondering what happened. I know what you’re thinking, but it’s probably not a magician, and this is no illusion. You could be losing just as much of your merchandise from your own store employees or other people that work in your store such as contracted workers like cleaning crews, or even vendors. When creating your clothing security strategy, it is important to consider thefts from these types of associates and plan accordingly.
I have conducted several internal theft investigations in which the contracted cleaning crew was taking merchandise from the store. One case in particular was a cleaning crew that was comprised of three people, and all of them were stealing. The crew worked overnight to early morning, and two of them usually worked together and the other worked by himself. I first noticed one of the two that worked together picking up merchandise from the shelf, and placing it into a bag that was on the floor cleaning machine. At that point, I didn’t know if anyone else was involved, because he was by himself when he concealed the item.
I then continued watching, and saw that his counterpart was looking at clothing while working. The next night, I saw her pick up some clothing and take it into the fitting rooms. At the time, the store didn’t place security tags on clothes that fell into the price category she selected. When she came out of the fitting rooms, the clothing was nowhere to be found. I later checked the fitting rooms, and didn’t find the clothing, it’s almost like it disappeared into thin air. We did find the tags though, so I looked which types of clothing she was taking and reworked our clothing security strategy to add merchandise she was taking to the list of clothing we were protecting with Checkpoint Tags. I then installed a covert camera in area of the stockroom where the cleaning crew kept its supplies. That was the turning point in the case. Not only did I observe her remove clothing from under the clothing she was wearing and conceal it into her own purse, but I also got a better understanding of the activities of the whole crew.
The subject that I watched conceal merchandise into the bag performed that trick nightly, and he brought the concealed items back into the supply area, where he transferred the items from the bag to his pockets. Most of the merchandise he took was small electronics and clothing. I learned they were working together when they both met near the cleaning supply area and showed each other what they had taken for the night. Then to my surprise, I observed the third member of the team go to the supply area by himself, and pull food out of his pockets that he would sit and eat. I later found that he picked the food up from the sales floor while he was working, and so were the other two members. When I concluded the investigation and spoke with the associates, it turned out that the two that worked together had no idea that the third person was also stealing, and vice versa.
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