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Community and Communication Keys to Loss Prevention

By: Brittany Engelmann-- 2017-03-16 7:00 am --

Picture this: It’s a bright, sunny Spring day. Kids are out of school and there’s something close to brisk foot traffic in and out of your shop. You’re busy with customers when suddenly a group of what looks like teenagers rush into your space.

They’re in and out in less than a minute. A flurry of hands looting your shelves as they hoot and holler and run amok. And in a flash they’re gone, out the door and running in different directions.

What can you do?

Experts say one of the most important steps you can take to guard against thefts like these is to communicate with your community. 

That’s advice from the National Retail Federation. According to a post on their site, retailers in towns across America are engaging with their local law enforcement and working on strategies to keep shoppers and merchandise safe. It seems old fashioned, but communication is key.

Local merchants and community members can take advantage of Federal level training and resources to help build ties with local law enforcement.  The Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing offers tips and techniques for police departments and community members to connect on safety and “forge community partnerships” to focus on “problem-solving techniques that law enforcement, communities, shoppers and retail businesses can take to help prevent becoming a victim of crime.” The NRF article tours a few towns that are putting these techniques to use, like Green Bay Wisc. and Monroe, La.

Over at Loss Prevention Magazine, they’re talking about a different sort of community communication technique and it might not be what you expect.

Let’s say you or your loss prevention officer has managed to catch a thief red-handed, which is not highly recommended.

Before you start hurling questions at the sticky fingered perpetrator, try talking to them a bit about their life.

That’s right, get to know the thief, Loss Prevention says. It could help get answers and possibly prevent more crime.

When a dishonest employee or other individual who is being interviewed first sits down in front of you, he or she doesn’t know what to expect. As a result, they might feel anxious, which can quickly transition into defensiveness. Taking the time to get to know the person may help ease this apprehension, and may even prevent the individual from escalating into a defensive state.

Up in Ontario, Canada a group of convenience stores have taken the community engagement to the next level. Mac’s and Circle K stores have created a unit called MacsCrimeBusters that highlights loss prevention techniques through community engagement.

One particular program called Positive Ticketing arms local law enforcement with coupons for free goods.

The Positive Ticketing youth engagement initiative, dubbed Operation Freeze and Operation Heat are simply coupons for free beverages (Frosters in the summer and a selection of hot beverages in the winter months). Since the inception of this initiative in 2007, more than 1.1 million Operation Freeze and Operation Heat coupons have been strategically issued by police officers  to recognize and motivate Ontario’s youth for positive behavior.

“It is a unique approach to crime prevention and we have had nothing but positive feedback from our employees, customers, law enforcement and the media,” said Sean Sportun, manager of security and loss prevention for Mac’s Convenience Stores, a Toronto-based chain that has integrated technology into its training, prevention and awareness programs.