Let's Talk Trash

April 15, 2009

On the SIW Loss Prevention/Retail Security forum, a discussion is taking place about the use of trash receptacles on the sales floors of grocery stores. I responded by posting a comment suggesting that if the grocery store has a bakery, salad bar or hot food service area, it’s a good idea to supply trash containers for customer use. As it turns out the original forums poster was talking about the use of trashcans throughout the sales floor.

Let’s expand the conversation to include the reasons why it is not a good idea to provide trash receptacles for general customer use on the sales floor. Customers could use trash bins to discard packaging from items they intend to steal, thus giving them a safe place to discard the wrappers. Nobody gives a second thought to someone placing “trash” into a trashcan. Customers often place the wrapping from a stolen product on grocery shelves. Just pay attention the next time you go grocery shopping and you will find plenty of instances. Just look behind tall boxes. Placing the wrapping on a grocery shelf raises the chances of the shoplifter being observed and caught.
Another reason is to reduce the chance of employee theft. Although the employee, inclined to steal, has the run of the store and can use trashcans in the rear areas of the store, customers do not. When discarded suspicious packing is found in the backroom areas, it becomes easier to tie it to a specific employee. By adding trashcans on the sales floor, employees could use those receptacles and throw suspicion on everyday customers.
While we’re talking trash, here are some tips for taking out the trash:
·          Use only clear plastic bags
·          Check trash for discarded packaging, saleable product (employees often use trash bags to hide merchandise they will later pickup outside the store after their shift).
·          Make sure a member of management or security supervises the trash removal process. Do not hand the keys, to the back door, to just any employee. My experience shows that if you do this, they may very well take out more than the trash.
·          If possible, remove the trash after closing and take it out the front door.
·          If your business utilizes an Electronic Article Surveillance (EAS) device, pass the trash bag(s) through the system before allowing them to leave the store. You might just be surprised with what you may find.