Loss Prevention Training Seminars

Preventing shoplifting is by far one of the major problem for big retailers. For the small retail store, shoplifting takes on a different meaning.  For those stores, shoplifting threatens their livelihood and the prosperity of their community.

Shoplifting Prevention seminars are not only beneficial for the management personnel of big retail stores, but play an important aspect for the small mom and pop stores across the country.  Knowledgable employees, management, and owners can greatly reduce the shoplifting incidents by being proactive and taking preventable measures to combat shoplifting in their stores.

Some of these preventive measures are:

1. CCTV cameras that are clearly monitored by trained personnel is an asset for every store. Positioning cameras with clear view of the aisles can deter the would be shoplifter from attempting to steal merchandise.  Spacious and well lit aisles can help prevent the theft, or at least make the theft more difficult to achieve.

2. Parking lots, and spaces around your store should be well lit.  Thieves like to inspect the place they are robbing.  Providing a well lit store can deter the shoplifter from even entering the place.

3. Do not engage in any physical confrontation with them.  The shoplifting issue can escalate and become one of life and death situation.  Remember that safety should be your first concern when dealing with shoplifting suspects.

4. Customer service has been known to deter shoplifting incidents in a store.  If your customer service is subpar, invest in the training of your personnel.

5. Facial recognition software can help you identify known shoplifters that are in a store’s database.

Preventing shoplifting incidents in your store is a difficult job that trained personnel should be specifically trained to deal with, and should be dealt with care.  There are many shoplifting incidents where there are lives lost because non-trained personnel felt they could take care of it themselves.  Lives lost, jail time,and lawsuits are some of the tricky issues stores around the country are dealing with year after year.

Training your loss prevention personnel is an investment the store, and you as an owner would benefit from having. 

Physical Security Inspections Can Help Impact Sales While Keeping Customers And Employees Safe

Daylight savings time is over and for most of us in the U.S. (yes, there are a few exceptions) we have moved our clocks and groaned at the loss of a precious hour of sleep. We have to adjust and get used to the change and eventually we do. For our personal lives there isn’t a lot of impact, once we are used to it we do benefit from the additional daylight and get to enjoy more outdoor activity. The time change is useful as a reminder for changing batteries in smoke detectors. You may even use it as a point when you will start planning your summer vacations. For business owners daylight savings time can be a reminder that it is time to conduct a store physical security review. Time changes may not impact us much individually but for retailers there is an impact for the building, employees and your customers.

     How does daylight impact your business? With more daylight you may want to take a look at your parking lot lighting. Are the lights on the exterior of the building set to timers? If they are it would be appropriate to set them to the new hours of dusk. Lights turning on too early wastes energy and drives up electric expenses. Having lights come on when it is already dark makes a parking lot feel unsafe and will keep shoppers away from your store. In an article from Buildings.com titled “4 Parking Security Essentials” by Jennie Morton, 11/30/2012, the author states, “Give your lighting a hard look stresses Geary Robinson, parking and transportation services director for Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) and a member of IPI. Dark shadows that can conceal aggressors, reduced visibility for pedestrians and vehicles, and inadequate color rendering all chip away at safety.” The article continues, “Not sure if your parking area has a lighting problem? Look at the behavior of visitors. If people feel compelled to use their headlights in your garage or cars are grouped in your lot closest to light poles, these activities indicate that users may be uncomfortable with the level of darkness.” (Emphasis mine). If lighting is not adequate or if lamps are out, this is the perfect time to get them replaced. If you lease your property a call to your property management company is in order to get lights repaired or replaced.

     Since we are talking about a thorough physical security review of the building I would recommend testing fire exit push bars. Are they alarming properly? Do the doors open easily? I once had a set of fire doors that would not close properly after testing the push bar and we could not reset the alarm. What if the opposite had been the problem? What would have happened had the doors not opened properly in an emergency situation? You cannot assume that systems will work simply because you want it to be so. While you are at the fire doors, check the fire exit lights, make sure they are lit. This can be difficult with some lights. While they may seem dim to you, some are designed this way. Ask the fire department to come to the store and test the lights to ensure they meet code requirements. By auditing and testing you identify potential issues and get them repaired so you can depend on them in the event you need them. You could also avoid hefty fines for safety violations in case of an inspection by the Fire Marshall.

      Include testing of your burglary and fire alarm systems at this time. Your alarm system company should be able to walk you through a test of the burglary alarm system. Testing door alarm points and any motion sensors your store may have. You may also need to do a break glass test to be sure your system will pick up front door and window glass breaks. Fire alarm tests and sprinkler riser tests can be conducted through a third party vendor. You don’t need to be the expert in how to conduct the tests, just be sure to get them done.

     Many people associate spring with a fresh start. Give your business a fresh start annually, use this time of the year as a reminder to check your safety measures. Keep your customers and employees safe while protecting your business from unnecessary fines or lawsuits.

Tuning Up Your CCTV To Maximize Safety And Security

When do closed circuit television malfunctions occur? I’m sure you can guess, it is always at the point when you need it most. I can’t recall the number of instances when I had a cash shortage I needed to look for and when I attempted to pull video through the DVR the video was already dropped or the camera wasn’t functioning. I remember having to look for an image of a suspect in a shoplifting incident and the picture was too grainy to be of any use due to a dirty camera lens or dome. One slightly embarrassing situation that stands out in my mind involved robberies that were taking place behind our store. I had developed a great working relationship with our local police department and they knew the quality of our camera system. Investigators came to me seeking assistance with outdoor camera footage to try to identify the criminals conducting the robberies. I pulled up video of the date and time in question and much to my chagrin the camera had a great shot of the ground directly underneath it. A power surge had impacted the programming of the pan/tilt/zoom (PTZ) camera and placed it in a default position. I had not noticed the problem in a timely fashion and could not recall how long it was before I did catch the issue. The good news was I was able to re-program the camera and eventually we did provide footage of an incident a little later that led to an arrest.

     It is important to do a spring cleaning of your Loss Prevention tools, and especially a tune up of your closed circuit television (cctv) equipment. As a Loss Prevention Manager for a big box retailer, each spring we would have what we referred to as a bounce back checklist. The checklist covered a number of housekeeping items, including cleaning and checking CCTV components. Doing so helped to ensure we were getting maximum video retention, quality camera pictures, clear public view monitor images and we would identify equipment needing repairs.

     I used to train my team to look at CCTV equipment from the eye of a shoplifter. If there is a public view monitor it is supposed to be a deterrent to crime. When the bad guys see their picture on a monitor the idea is that they will be less inclined to do what they intended whether it is shoplifting, stealing purses or robbing the business. I would emphasize that a filthy monitor or poor quality picture indicated to the bad guys that the store didn’t take Loss Prevention seriously and diminished the deterrence value.

     CCTV equipment maintenance is not just for stores with a Loss Prevention Department. Many stores do not have a security department but there is equipment that is a precaution against crime. Often a camera system with a digital video recorder, computer and or multiplexer is housed in a small office recording activity. It can be easy to forget about it if there is not someone assigned to check on it daily. Sometimes it is neglected until a robbery takes place or money is missing from a register and then a manager goes to review footage and finds the system is not functioning. Using a spring checklist helps managers ensure equipment will be functioning when it is needed.

      So what should be included in a cctv tune-up checklist?

  • Dust digital video recorders, keyboards, computers and multiplexers with canned air and good quality dusters
  • Check all connections and ensure nothing has come loose and no wires are frayed
  • If equipment is maintained in a small office, ensure the room is properly cooled
  • Review each camera and picture, is it positioned to see what you need it to see?
  • Clean every camera lens
  • Wipe down all camera domes (even dummy domes)
  • Clean Public View Monitors. If a monitor has a burned picture, replace it. Look at it during different hours of the day is there a time when too much glare hits it? If so, you may want to try repositioning it.
  • Check your video retention. If you aren’t getting at least 30 days follow up with your vendor to see about clearing space or optimizing recording. You may be able to set recording zones or sensors that will only record when movement in an area happens.

No one wants to think about a robbery, employee theft or shoplifting taking place in their store but it is something you have to be prepared for. Take care of your cctv by tuning it up so that IF the time comes when you need it you will have the video necessary to help police in their investigation to put the criminals away.