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  • Possible business opportunity

    I am a retired PI but currently LP manager of a 3 store chain of high end wine/spirits/gourmet, etc products. I get regular industry updates and have seen quite a bit of coverage on Washington state stores that have been privatized. They are apparently experiencing a rash of shoplifting and lawmakers are thinking about imposing strict reporting on theft.

    I see this as a great opportunity for Washington state PI's and security professionals to get involved with CCTV, LP programs and surveys, employee awareness training, etc. Or maybe, like me, hired as an LP manager for a large store or chain. Many retailers look at LP as a cost but it is actually a profit center.

    Recent article below:

    Washington: Lawmaker proposes new rules to stop liquor thieves

    Since privatization, shoplifting of booze on rise; bill would allow state to close problem outlets

    Source: The Olympian
    January 14, 2014

    One would think losing money would be reason enough for stores to protect their liquor bottles from thieves.

    But police say they have seen shoplifting reports pile up since voters privatized Washington liquor sales in 2011. In response, state government may force problem stores to shape up or risk losing their licenses.

    "We cannot have juveniles and mentally ill people and chronic inebriates walking into a store and grabbing a bottle of spirits so easily as we have in some stores," said Rep. Chris Hurst, chairman of the House committee with jurisdiction over alcohol laws.

    The committee took testimony Monday on a proposal giving state regulators at the Liquor Control Board new authority over stores with "unacceptable" levels of theft.

    But it would be up to the board to decide how much theft is unacceptable. And the legislation would depend on police telling the board where shoplifting is happening.

    Police say that's difficult as long as stores are unwilling to say how much of their inventory is turning up missing.

    Some numbers do show up in police reports. Tim Bennett, a Walla Walla police officer, told lawmakers his department almost never received reports of shoplifting from the old state stores - just five theft reports in more than seven years before the stores shut down in 2012. In the first 10 months of 2013, it received reports of 86 thefts, he said.

    But stores often don't report shoplifting because they don't know about it at the time, said Don Pierce, a lobbyist for the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs. They only find out later after counting their inventory - and retailers have resisted revealing loss data to the authorities for competitive reasons.

    The police group wants state government to require reporting of those numbers statewide.

    The proposal being pushed by two Enumclaw lawmakers, Republican Rep. Cathy Dahlquist and Democrat Hurst, doesn't go that far. Instead, it zeros in on stores that law enforcement knows are targets.

    The liquor board would be able to seek audits from those stores on their thefts. Then, if the owners don't crack down voluntarily, the board could impose changes such as extra staffing, security cameras, record-keeping systems and moving liquor displays. If the stores still didn't comply, the board could eventually suspend or revoke their licenses.

    Retailers didn't flatly oppose the measure Monday, but said many stores either aren't seeing major theft or have addressed them without regulations. In fact, the requirements that could be imposed are based on some stores' successful techniques.

    What's really needed is more law enforcement funding, retailers said.

    For years, stores have tried to get police to respond to shoplifting, said Amy Brackenbury, who lobbies for the small grocers in the Washington Food Industry Association. But it hasn't been a priority.

    "If it's truly a major public safety issue, and we think it is, then let's treat it that way and not just by penalizing the retailer that makes the mistake of having his merchandise stolen," Brackenbury told the committee.

    Rep. Cary Condotta, an East Wenatchee Republican, said he can't believe any owner wouldn't protect such expensive merchandise - "liquid gold."

    "Is there really any store out there that wants theft, that just doesn't care?" he asked.

    But Pierce said after the hearing that stores may be making the decision to protect their most expensive booze, while accepting that there will be some theft of the cheaper stuff and building that into the price they charge.

    Condotta said he would seek some changes in the proposal. He doesn't want to leave it to the liquor board to set the threshold for sanctions.

    Hurst has been doing some checks of his own and said most stores are doing a good job preventing theft - but not all.

    "I walked into a couple stores, one o'clock in the morning, there was Jack Daniel's and Jagermeister, seven, eight steps from the door with no one in the front of the store," he said. "I literally could have filled my vehicle as full as I could, without anyone even knowing that I had been in the store."

    Police said that makes it easy for booze to fall into the hands of underage drinkers.

    "The reward of being the hero at that party or being accepted by the group," Bennett said, "that makes for a very large reward for some teens and young adults."


  • #2
    Sounds like the same penalties they give clubs/bars/venues if they become nuisance properties. Roscoe it's definitely an untapped or under tapped market IMO. I'd think larger chains would have some type of security/LP policy already in place, and that it's the smaller stores that are more in need of these services.
    Sergeant Phil Esterhaus: "Hey, let's be careful out there.."



    • #3
      Sounds like Wash State needs to look at how (most?) of the other 49 states, and other 200 odd Nations on Earth handle this without "State Owned Stores" or WTF they had in WA.

      Tell them to start by looking at France and Germany.

      Maybe the store with(EXPENSIVE) the booze so close the door wasn't in a 'diverse' neighborhood, hence the lack of concern from owner. Maybe he also had a CCTV, so if was kids he'd just call their parents, and due to WA's lack of "diversity", he could count on parents taking appropriate action.

      I've never understood the panic over some kids getting ahold of some booze. I've seen my share of young kids drunk for first or 2nd time enough times to know it is mostly just funny. If a 14yr old gets drunk and missed a full day of school, even "finals" it ain't "the end of the world" since he isn't the 'bread winner' and if a girl is not likely to be a mom, and even if she IS a mom, she will have 'back up' from HER mom.

      Maybe they should make drinking AFTER age 21 illegal.


      Some numbers do show up in police reports. Tim Bennett, a Walla Walla police officer, told lawmakers his department almost never received reports of shoplifting from the old state stores - just five theft reports in more than seven years before the stores shut down in 2012. In the first 10 months of 2013, it received reports of 86 thefts, he said."

      MAYBE the lazy Govt workers just didn't report the thefts! If they said "our computer inventory system shows only 5 'shrinkages' in 7 years" then MAYBE they'd have something.
      Last edited by Squid; 01-16-2014, 11:18 PM.


      • #4

        Why do you continue to post racist and uninformed comments?

        Don't answer.


        • #5

          Read my original post. This is still an untapped market for a security entrepreneur to make a ton of money:

          Washington: New law takes aim at liquor thefts

          Effective in June, its goal is to keep minors from obtaining spirits

          A new liquor law will take effect next month. The measure states that a licensee experiencing an "unacceptable rate of spirits theft," defined as two or more incidents in a six-month period, where an underage drinker ends up possessing the booze, could see their license pulled by the state's liquor control board.

          Source: The Columbian
          By Lauren Dake
          May 9, 2014

          On a Saturday evening in March, a 25-year-old man went into Safeway on Main Street, filled a backpack and shopping cart with 26 full-sized bottles of liquor - Hennessy, vodka, scotch - and left the store without paying.

          Two 16-year-old girls later admitted they were in the car, one at the wheel, as the man hit four retail stores that day, according to the Vancouver Police Department.

          Next month, a new law will take effect that will give local law enforcement officers more tools to crack down on liquor thefts and with the aim of keeping liquor out of the hands of minors.

          The measure, House Bill 2155, states that a licensee experiencing an "unacceptable rate of spirits theft" defined as two or more incidents in a six-month period, where the result is an underage drinker ends up possessing the booze, could see their license pulled by the state's liquor control board.

          That means even if the theft doesn't involve a minor, but an underage drinker ends up with the stolen bottle, the retailer could be held responsible.

          "If you lose a bottle . you could lose your liquor license," said Rep. Chris Hurst, a Democratic lawmaker from Enumclaw, who helped spearhead the effort. "This is a huge change. I don't think we'll have to use it a lot. The threat of the law (will) change the behavior."

          The threshold may seem low considering in the first four months of this year, the Safeway at 3707 Main St. reported seven instances where spirits were stolen. The Safeway at 13719 S.E. Mill Plain Blvd. reported five different instances. And of course, Safeway isn't alone.

          Walgreens at 2521 Main St. reported three different cases in the same four-month time period, according to the Vancouver Police Department. Officers believe the bulk of thefts involved minors.

          After voters approved privatizing liquor in 2011, Hurst said, there was a "market change."

          "Kids got their hands on beer before, but beer wasn't being shoplifted - wine wasn't (either)," he said. "Spirits changed that."

          Hurst, who is a former cop, said he decided to do some of his own investigative work after hearing stories of high rates of liquor thefts.

          He visited stores at sporadic hours. He took photos. He called retail managers.

          "What really got me was around Thanksgiving and Christmas time, there were stores with Jack Daniels and Jagermeister that were eight steps from the door at 2 and 3 in the morning," he said. "You had to ring a bell to get someone out of the back from stocking. You could have loaded a truckload . before anyone noticed."

          It's not an automatic that stores will lose their licenses, Hurst said. They can show a good-faith effort, he said, by moving liquor away from the door, or behind a glass case.

          "The store has an opportunity to respond and say, 'It's not our booze,' but if it turns out it did come from them, they have the opportunity to lock it up so it's not stolen," he said. "And the liquor board can impose that, if they fail to do that, then the liquor board can take their license."

          And he's not worried it will deter stores from reporting crimes. Even if they do, he said, the cops "know where the booze is coming from."

          "God's sake, you can look it up on Facebook or Twitter . kids are bragging about it," he said.

          Rep. Cathy Dahlquist, a Republican from Enumclaw, who also backed the measure, said the goal is to give more authority to local law enforcement, who can build a case and then report the stores to the state's liquor control board.

          "They know where the liquor is walking out of (and) they can direct the liquor control board, 'Go to this Speedy Mart, Safeway or Fred Meyer,'?" Dahlquist said. "That's the idea, more private, local control. I think it's pretty common sense."

          Retailer's take

          Ilia Botvinnik, a public information officer with the Vancouver Police Department, said Safeway has been trying to curb thefts.

          Safeway did not return a call seeking comment.

          Other stores, Botvinnik said, have been taking active steps to secure liquor, but it's not easy.

          "The theft is pretty constant; liquor specifically, it's targeted by juveniles . and organized retail theft crews. They come in and work the I-5 corridor between here and Seattle," he said.

          Several crews, he said, can swipe thousands of dollars of merchandise a day. They can resell them to bars or underage drinkers.

          Jan Gee, with the Washington Food Industry Association, which represents independent and locally owned grocery stores, said the responsibility has shifted too much on to retailers.

          "We didn't support liquor privatization; the public did, and the public wants it, and that means it's a public problem," she said.

          "We need everyone involved in the solution. You can't have retailers absorb expensive locked cages on the liquor - that is not the right answer. The right answer is everyone sit down and strengthen the laws and get local law enforcement involved."

          Echoing Botvinnik, she said people come in, load up their vans and get the word out to underage drinkers.

          "Kids know where to buy liquor. Tell me how in the world a grocery store owner can defend themselves when they have three, four, five organized rings that leave with liquor. How in the world would our store prevent them from selling to minors?" Gee said.