Talking Retail Security and Loss Prevention at ISC West

Panel discussion brings technology, loss prevention and retail security scenarios together

About a month ago, I was out spending hard earned dollars at Best Buy, buying a DVD of The Breakup, with Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn.

I entered the store and was greeted with a helpful "Can we help you find something?" My fiancé and I declined the offer of help and wandered back into the store to the heavy hitter electronics sections to drool over new top-of-the-line PCs and some really stunning plasma displays. We eventually ended up in the movie section and it came down to a horror movie and The Breakup. I think it's clear whose pick we bought that night. We moved forward in the store through the store, away from the high-end electronics and to the cash registers, which were neatly positioned at the exit. We paid, grabbed the DVD and as we walked out, the electronic article surveillance tag, which the cashier had forgotten to deactivate, set off the alarms. The "yellow shirts" stepped forward as we turned around the sound of the alarm. "Is everything alright," they asked. "No problem here," I joked back, "we're just shoplifting." We handed over the movie and our cashier receipt; the loss prevention employee checked it and wished us a good evening.

Now the reason I mention this brief experience is not because it's the kind of movie that every couple should watch, but because shopping at Best Buy that evening has everything to do with retail security and the following of some basic best practices in loss prevention.

Fast forward a month and I was sitting on an ISC West education panel about “Retail Loss Prevention Trends, Techniques, and Technology.” The panel was graciously chaired by David Happe of US Install, and also featured Paul Stone, head of loss prevention and risk management for Best Buy, Liz Martinez, an author, strategist and professor in the realm of loss prevention and retail security, Sanggoo Kang in product marketing with Samsung, and Master Police Officer Jack White, a personal friend of Martinez who been around a block or two when it comes to retail crimes.

To an audience of 80 percent dealers/integrators, 15 percent end-users, plus a handful of specialized vendors, our panel spoke for almost 2 hours on topics affecting electronic security system sales in the retail environment, organized retail crime, internal theft problems, smash-and-grab crimes and a whole lot more.

After the panel, I was thinking back on this visit to Best Buy, and I was thinking a bit about how Paul Stone's loss prevention policies were well placed. Not only did he do the #1 thing to prevent shoplifting (an employee greeted us - and shoplifters like being greeted about as much as they like to think about undercover LP staff, because it means they could be remembered), but he also had used some basic LPTED (loss prevention through environmental design) strategies. For LPTED, whether intentional or not, the store didn't place high-value items in a location where they could be snatched and run immediately out a front door. Cash register stations impeded any exit, putting a store employee (and surveillance) between any potential thief and the home-free run of a parking lot. Especially in areas of small, easily hidden product, the aisles were all designed to be low enough that a single employee could easily monitor what's happening not only in his/her aisle, but also adjacent aisles. And finally, video surveillance and EAS systems were being deployed as a technological add-on.

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