As a Loss Prevention security guard, you’ll work closely with retail stores as the cavalry against shoplifting. Throughout the United States, the need for effective and qualified Loss Prevention security guards is on the rise. With the continued expansion of retail shopping centers and boutique stores, these specialized security professionals not only support a safe shopping experience, but help businesses prevent unnecessary losses.
Whether you’re simply considering a position in this security field or are already working in a retail environment and wish to increase your viability, the following guide offers explicit insights into the ever-evolving realm of Loss Prevention security.
Principles of Loss Prevention Practices
Every industry has unique requirements and performance modalities. While the ultimate purpose of all security personnel is to safeguard their assigned patrol route, the tasks needed to accomplish this goal can greatly vary.
When it comes to a Loss Prevention Security Guard, there are several unique principles responsible for guiding and refining daily operations. The following Principles of Loss Prevention Practices should be carefully analyzed as they form the foundation of all Loss Prevention security guard jobs.
- Responsibility – To streamline communication and guard efficiency, there is typically a single lead during a shift. This point of contact identifies current and potential threats, and leverages this knowledge to ensure security guards are properly disbursed and monitored.
- Awareness – As a professional retail security guard, you must maintain a solid awareness of not only your surroundings, but the legalities governing your position. Dealing with theft in a retail environment is a murky topic. Many companies and security managers hold different frameworks regarding this necessary topic. Assist in this process by being aware of what local, state and federal law defines as retail theft and appropriate responses to an active incident. This knowledge may help keep you out of any potential legal liability due to improper situation handling.
- Compliance – Every employer features unique Loss Prevention tactics and regulations. You must actively study and understand each defined protocol to ensure you and your teammates are in complete compliance. If there aren’t pre-agreed upon standards regarding Loss Prevention practices, push your employer to create a standardized methodology. This is essential for work performance benchmarks and legal protections.
- Detection Systems – How does your employer use security tools to support theft detection? What’s your role in these systems? Understanding how electronic detection systems integrate into your daily tasks is paramount for efficient coverage and operations.
Defining the Modalities of Retail Theft
How exactly does theft happen in a retail environment? More importantly, how do you influence the success or failure of these common theft methods? While your response to theft will vary based on state and employer regulations, here’s a brief list of the most common modalities of retail theft:
- Internal Theft – This refers to theft by employees, instead of by customers. Staff theft is a serious problem for many businesses, so training is imperative to learn how to spot the patterns of internal thieves.
- Shoplifting – Perhaps the most common form of retail theft is by shoplifting. This activity can be as minor as a single person attempting to steal a low-cost item, to a widespread attempt by an established crime organization. Understanding the concept and detection methods of shoplifting is the cornerstone of being an effective Loss Prevention Security Guard.
- Distraction Theft – Just as its name sounds, this method of theft works by the power of distraction. Typically, staff are distracted by one person or event so their accomplices can steal items without detection. As a Loss Prevention Security Guard, you must always pay attention during these moments. Even if the distraction seems mild and innocent, your observation should never cease to scan the immediate area.
Following Theft Apprehension Protocols
New security personnel commonly assume that if they suspect a thief, it’s within their right to do whatever they can to stop the person of interest from leaving. This is not only incorrect, but potentially a deadly response.
Because retailers and security companies must follow explicit legal regulations when it comes to approaching a suspected shoplifter, you must be fully aware of these guidelines. Failure to follow these established rules may result in serious legal ramifications.
While your employer and state may feature unique regulations, security guards typically require the following string of events to happen before going after a suspected shoplifter:
- You must visibly witness the suspect pickup the products
- You must visibly witness the suspect conceal the goods from sight
- You must visibly see the goods on the suspect, making sure products aren’t dropped or placed elsewhere
- You must visibly witness the suspect walk past all payment points without stopping
- You must visibly witness the suspect walk out of the store with the goods
- You must never rely on hear-say, or third party, information when determining a shoplifting incident
- You must allow the suspect to leave without apprehension or communication if you have any doubt of their guilt
Prevention is Greater Than Apprehension
The ultimate goal of a Loss Prevention Security Guard is to prevent crime. While your presence is vital to apprehend a confirmed thief, this should always be as a complete last resort. After all, by preventing a crime you’re keeping not only yourself safer, but also the safety of other shoppers and staff.
Preventing crime is just as unique as the crime itself. However, there are several ways you can actively work to stop crime from happening in the first place. These include:
- Identifying high risk areas within the store. Imagine you were a shoplifter, where would you feel most comfortable performing this act? Are there areas in the store with inadequate CCTV or personnel coverage? Carefully monitor these locations.
- What are the hottest items currently in stock? Thieves tend to go for the newest releases of popular products, especially products that are portable and easily concealed.
- Are all cabinets and lockers secured? Confirm each locker is locked immediately after being opened. Pay attention to customers who distract employees during this process.
Do you have full coverage? If you’re short staffed, increase not only your presence in these areas, but also non-security employee coverage. Dead zones in coverage are hot spots for shoplifters.