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  • Elements

    Just out of curiousity, what elements do you have to gather (in your company) in order to arrest a shoplifter?

    I have only been in LP for about 5yrs now, in two major retail companies. The first LP job I had was great at teaching the basics, but had a manager that knew a lot and didn't know how to apply it. Needless to say, his judgement was not always the best. The second LP job (current) is a federal retail job, in which I was promoted to supervisor in 3 months. Both jobs have almost similar elements to arrest shoplifters, give or take 1 or 2 differences. Because I live in Hawaii, I meet various people (in LP) from various states. Some say that they were able arrest before the subject left the store with the merchandise. That I find hard to believe, but apparently it is true (according to that individual).

    My training has taught me the following list in order to arrest for theft:
    • approach
    • select
    • conceal (or carry in hand)
    • constant surveillance
    • exit the store


    What does it take in your town?
    some say given the opportunity, I say given the need...

  • #2
    Some states allow you to make the stop after the shoplifter has exausted all reasonable attempts to pay, by passing the "last point of sale." I.e. the register line.

    Other states provide in statute that concealment is prima ficiae evidence of retail theft, so the second they conceal you can make the stop.

    Replace #7 with "left last point of sale," and you have the way I was taught to conduct a retail theft stop in Florida.
    Some Kind of Commando Leader

    "Every time I see another crazy Florida post, I'm glad I don't work there." ~ Minneapolis Security on Florida Security Law

    Comment


    • #3
      Although some state statutes permit the apprehension of external theft supsects who knowingly fail or refuse to pay for merchandise at the POS, courts, depending on the specific jurisdiction involved, require apprehensions to be strongly based on the six step process, i.e.

      approach
      select
      conceal
      continuous surveillance
      exit store
      obtaining merchandise from exact location it is concealed, rather than doing a pat down search to locate the specific location.

      The key component is establishing and proving "criminal intent" which is why courts require suspects to be apprehended after exiting the store, or in the alternative, exiting the first set of doors when there are two sets of doors due to the building structure. It can be difficult to prove "criminal intent" if the suspect is taken inside the store even if they fail or refuse to pay for the merchandise after passing the last POS opportunity.

      Addressing internal theft is a whole different matter because of the broad range of case laws specific to employee rights and internal polices and commonly entails doing interviews with the suspected employee to obtain a written confession due to the impracticality and impossibility to abide by the required six step process for external theft suspects. In other words, Courts will forego the six step process for internal theft, in place of having a written confession by the suspect or substantial probable cause otherwise, that is supported by objective evidence such as video tapes, register tapes and / or eye witness statements.
      Last edited by Christopherstjo; 04-23-2007, 10:58 PM.

      Comment


      • #4
        Good topic.

        I work for a large retailer and we follow the 5 element or "steps" process when making a stop. The final element is passing the point of purchase which, in 99.9% of cases, is in the parking lot.

        Thankfully our training is extensive. We spend 4 weeks (spread out over a few months) housed and trained at our regional office. We learn shoplifting law, tactical training from local LE (cuffing, pat down, etc..) investigations, and of course the 5 elements to making a stop. This period is really effective at weeding out those individuals who think it is a "hide in the racks and tackle" organization.

        Even though various states have different laws on retail fraud, our entire company has to follow the same guidlines. We have recently entered into Canada and Mexico, so I am interested to see how their programs operate once the stores are operating.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Christopherstjo
          Although some state statutes permit the apprehension of external theft supsects who knowingly fail or refuse to pay for merchandise at the POS, courts, depending on the specific jurisdiction involved, require apprehensions to be strongly based on the six step process, i.e.

          approach
          select
          conceal
          continuous surveillance
          exit store
          obtaining merchandise from exact location it is concealed, rather than doing a pat down search to locate the specific location.
          I'd be interested in the source of the sixth step - I haven't read of it anywhere and it isn't mentioned, for instance, by Chris McGoey, one of the nation's leading experts in LP, in any of his work or in numerous other articles I just looked at to try to find this step. If it's referenced in a court case, the case obviously has not acquired the provenance of forming case law (many case decisions never acquire this status).

          What usually happens, in fact, is that the individual is returned to the store, to some private area, and is asked to empty their own pockets/bag/purse, and I doubt seriously whether it will matter in the slightest whether the stolen merchandise is produced from the exact location where you believe it was concealed because shoplifters have many ways (and devices) deliberately designed to obscure this particular aspect of the theft from view. I might see the hand disappear into a coat that has been altered or designed in such a way that it allows the merchandise to be placed into a pants pocket out of view, for instance. I'm hardly stymied from making my arrest merely because I believe the merchandise was secreted within the coat but it turns out to be in the pants pocket instead!

          Indeed, as McGoey specifically points out, there are situations such as fitting rooms where you will not be able to see exactly where the merchandise is concealed, so this obviously cannot be a requirement for a shoplifting arrest.

          McGoey does, in fact, offer six steps, but they are basically a restatement of the "basic five" steps published elsewhere:

          * You must see the shoplifter approach your merchandise
          * You must see the shoplifter select your merchandise
          * You must see the shoplifter conceal, carry away or convert your merchandise
          * You must maintain continuous observation of the shoplifter
          * You must see the shoplifter fail to pay for the merchandise
          * You must approach the shoplifter outside of the store

          See Shoplifting: Probable Cause.

          The sixth item in McGoey's list (where to stop the shoplifter) is the subject under particular discussion, and even McGoey does not consider this step "mandatory", noting that only a few courts have held it necessary for the shoplifter to leave the store (or even to pass the "last payment opportunity" inside the store) to establish intent. Aside from these decisions, the stages up to and including concealment can be sufficient to establish intent. Each LP agent must consult his own state's laws and case decisions to resolve the question of exactly what establishes "intent", and where.

          Also, while this is not a "step" nor or a "legal requirement", McGoey recommends that the LP agent always be accompanied by at least one other employee of the store when the stop is made (as a witness and for "safety in numbers", as well as to discourage the shoplifter from running), and also instructs that the LP officer should clearly identify himself and his title when making the stop.
          Last edited by SecTrainer; 04-26-2007, 12:46 PM.
          "Every betrayal begins with trust." - Brian Jacques

          "I can't predict the future, but I know that it'll be very weird." - Anonymous

          "There is nothing new under the sun." - Ecclesiastes 1:9

          "History, with all its volumes vast, hath but one page." - Lord Byron

          Comment


          • #6
            The worst thing that the stores can do is set a rack of coupon filled fliers at the store entrance. These can be a lifters best friend. The bad guy will grab a flier an palm 2 items. One goes on the top and the other goes under the flier. When LP or the camera watches this bum he is innocently comparing the product with the coupon while he is slipping the other item in his pants out of sight. Replaces the one that was on top and leaves. Stores should simply offer the coupon at the item from a coupon dispenser.


            Is that contraband in your pants or are you happy to see me?
            THE AVERAGE RESPONSE TIME FOR A 911 CALL IS FOUR MINUTES
            THE AVERAGE RESPONSE TIME FOR A .357 MAGNUM ROUND IS 1400 FEET PER SECOND?
            http://www.boondocksaints.com/

            Comment


            • #7
              Thankfully in NZ the law is not to strict on how we stop a shoplifter, although we cannot legally arrest them nor hold them for any long period of time (unless we have a secondary reason, eg assult). Our company has similar steps described in the above posts, although we don't always have to follow them exactly, and often catches can and are based purely on speculation.

              - Suspect selects item(s)
              - Suspect conceals item(s) AND/OR Suspect converts/consumes item(s) (Theft by Consumption)
              - Suspect is observed after the fact through to failing to pay for item(s)
              - Suspect passes last point of sale (we do not have to wait until they have left the store, only last POS)

              It is not uncommon for members of staff to observe selection and concealment, and then drop back and observe the suspect on and off (always checking for dumped goods). We have no legal right to search persons or property, or hold them after recovering goods but most stores encourage this. Infact we have little authority at all which can often lead to charges of assult/kidnapping against LPO's by shoplifters.


              As long as the responding officer's can see or get a description of the stolen goods as well as a signed statement by the LPO they are usually happy to follow through. It is also rare (very rare) that anyone caught and prosecuted for shoplifting contests the fact as the punishment here is little more than a slap on the wrist (even for repeat offenders). Civil recovery is always persued against offenders over 18 though.

              lpnz
              Last edited by lpnz; 04-27-2007, 02:56 AM.
              Loss Prevention Supervisor (5+ years)
              New Zealand

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Chucky
                The worst thing that the stores can do is set a rack of coupon filled fliers at the store entrance. These can be a lifters best friend. The bad guy will grab a flier an palm 2 items. One goes on the top and the other goes under the flier. When LP or the camera watches this bum he is innocently comparing the product with the coupon while he is slipping the other item in his pants out of sight. Replaces the one that was on top and leaves. Stores should simply offer the coupon at the item from a coupon dispenser.


                Is that contraband in your pants or are you happy to see me?
                I absolutely agree with this, in double spades!! Sometimes these "fliers" are actually newspaper inserts (meaning, they're big pieces of paper) and the lifters thus have a legitimate reason for walking around the store carrying this visual "screen" to hide what they're really doing. If they tried bringing in a blank piece of paper or cardboard that size, and were "manipulating it" in such a way that it hid their hands, you'd spot what they were doing in a New York minute. It would be laughable. A flier, though? That's different.

                The other thing, as you imply, is that using the flier makes a person look all the more like a serious, legitimate shopper to an employee who looks at them (Thinking: "A lifter wouldn't care about our flier specials if they're not going to pay for stuff anyway, so that woman over there who is "consulting" the flier must be a legitimate shopper looking for our specials, not a lifter!").

                So, not only does the flier hide what they're doing, it diverts suspicion away from the individual by making them look "legit".

                Good, good points.

                Now for Chucky's "happiness versus contraband" conundrum. Here's the test: If you bust them and the item shrinks noticeably, it was probably happiness instead of contraband. Being busted just isn't conducive to maintaining one's...er..."happiness".
                Last edited by SecTrainer; 04-28-2007, 11:32 AM.
                "Every betrayal begins with trust." - Brian Jacques

                "I can't predict the future, but I know that it'll be very weird." - Anonymous

                "There is nothing new under the sun." - Ecclesiastes 1:9

                "History, with all its volumes vast, hath but one page." - Lord Byron

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by SecTrainer
                  I absolutely agree with this, in double spades!! Sometimes these "fliers" are actually newspaper inserts (meaning, they're big pieces of paper) and the lifters thus have a legitimate reason for walking around the store carrying this visual "screen" to hide what they're really doing. If they tried bringing in a blank piece of paper or cardboard that size, and were "manipulating it" in such a way that it hid their hands, you'd spot what they were doing in a New York minute. It would be laughable. A flier, though? That's different.

                  The other thing, as you imply, is that using the flier makes a person look all the more like a serious, legitimate shopper to an employee who looks at them (Thinking: "A lifter wouldn't care about our flier specials if they're not going to pay for stuff anyway, so that woman over there who is "consulting" the flier must be a legitimate shopper looking for our specials, not a lifter!").

                  So, not only does the flier hide what they're doing, it diverts suspicion away from the individual by making them look "legit".

                  Good, good points.

                  Now for Chucky's "happiness versus contraband" conundrum. Here's the test: If you bust them and the item shrinks noticeably, it was probably happiness instead of contraband. Being busted just isn't conducive to maintaining one's...er..."happiness".
                  You can't be serious. I kept waiting for the smiley face to appear to indicate you were humoring one of the more ridiculous statements I have ever heard.
                  www.plsolutions.net
                  www.customerloyaltysolutions.com

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Lynch Mob
                    You can't be serious. I kept waiting for the smiley face to appear to indicate you were humoring one of the more ridiculous statements I have ever heard.
                    These ad inserts can easily be placed over an item, which is then picked up and carried elsewhere to be secreted. Since employees expect to see people walking around with the inserts, they think nothing about this.

                    Or, perhaps you're not familiar with the "travelers" (gypsies), who send several men in to a store who pick up these newspaper inserts, or bring newspapers in with them. They stand at the end of an aisle in the waiting area for the register lanes and open them up to full width to block the view from the cash registers while other travelers clean out whole sections of merchandise. Or, they will block the view of the registers themselves with the papers and rob them in full daylight while there are customers within a few feet...and get away before anyone realizes what has happened (except the cashier). The "travelers" are an enormous problem in some parts of the country.

                    They also use newspapers, incidentally, as tools to aid them in picking pockets.

                    The use of newspapers as shoplifting tools is well known. Here's confirmation from the Stillwater OK Police Department website, for instance (scroll down to find this quote):

                    "Tools for shoplifting include newspapers, umbrellas, baby strollers, and anything else merchandise can be concealed in." Obviously, a newspaper ad insert, which is similar in size to a newspaper, serves just as well and is much less conspicuous inside the store, besides. People don't ordinarily walk around K-Mart reading the newspaper and this would be a little conspicuous. However, they *do* walk around the store reading the ad inserts that they pick up just inside the entrance, so this would attract no attention at all.

                    I'm not saying we'll ever get rid of these ad papers in stores, because we won't, but if you're implying that they're not used for criminal purposes such as the concealment of shoplifting, I'd have to respectfully disagree.
                    Last edited by SecTrainer; 04-28-2007, 06:48 PM.
                    "Every betrayal begins with trust." - Brian Jacques

                    "I can't predict the future, but I know that it'll be very weird." - Anonymous

                    "There is nothing new under the sun." - Ecclesiastes 1:9

                    "History, with all its volumes vast, hath but one page." - Lord Byron

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      SecTrainer, Lynch Mob:
                      There was a Court TV program on shoplifting and those two methods were shown. The one showing the coupon was as slick as glass. The newspaper demostration and actual video would take your breath away.
                      Enjoy the day,
                      Bill

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I think my wife caught that show and mentioned something about it to me (I wasn't really listening...it was my WIFE talking, I said)

                        Anyway, from what I do remember of what she said, I guess it really was something to behold how slick these people were. I'm sorry I missed it (the show, not what my wife said. I'm never sorry about missing what my wife says).
                        "Every betrayal begins with trust." - Brian Jacques

                        "I can't predict the future, but I know that it'll be very weird." - Anonymous

                        "There is nothing new under the sun." - Ecclesiastes 1:9

                        "History, with all its volumes vast, hath but one page." - Lord Byron

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I never said that it was not a method used for theft. However, if you have spent any time working shoplifting in a store that distributes flyers, it is a method that is used INFREQUENTLY and is used to steal very little at a time. Yet, those same flyers help to increase sales by hundreds, if not by thousands, in a single store each day.

                          The original statement was "The worst thing that the stores can do is set a rack of coupon filled fliers at the store entrance. These can be a lifters best friend." The flyers are far from the worst thing, and are actually one of the smarter things that retail stores do. Just because every once in a great while they are used to help a shoplifter does not make them one of the worst things.

                          The follow up was "I absolutely agree with this, in double spades!!". Considering some of the critique you, SecTrainer, have been frequent at throwing at people, I will critique this statement. It is a flawed position that is based upon looking at the small picture of apprehending shoplifters and not the big picture of sales and profitability for the store. When you step back from the minor issue of someone stealing a few small items, you will realize that the concept of taking away flyers would damage any company's profitability far quicker, and more dramatically, than any shoplifter ever would.
                          www.plsolutions.net
                          www.customerloyaltysolutions.com

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Bill Warnock
                            SecTrainer, Lynch Mob:
                            There was a Court TV program on shoplifting and those two methods were shown. The one showing the coupon was as slick as glass. The newspaper demostration and actual video would take your breath away.
                            Enjoy the day,
                            Bill
                            Spoken like a person who should not be speaking on shoplifting. When you see it in real life, it is not so breath taking.
                            www.plsolutions.net
                            www.customerloyaltysolutions.com

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Lynch Mob
                              I never said that it was not a method used for theft. However, if you have spent any time working shoplifting in a store that distributes flyers, it is a method that is used INFREQUENTLY and is used to steal very little at a time. Yet, those same flyers help to increase sales by hundreds, if not by thousands, in a single store each day.

                              The original statement was "The worst thing that the stores can do is set a rack of coupon filled fliers at the store entrance. These can be a lifters best friend." The flyers are far from the worst thing, and are actually one of the smarter things that retail stores do. Just because every once in a great while they are used to help a shoplifter does not make them one of the worst things.

                              The follow up was "I absolutely agree with this, in double spades!!". Considering some of the critique you, SecTrainer, have been frequent at throwing at people, I will critique this statement. It is a flawed position that is based upon looking at the small picture of apprehending shoplifters and not the big picture of sales and profitability for the store. When you step back from the minor issue of someone stealing a few small items, you will realize that the concept of taking away flyers would damage any company's profitability far quicker, and more dramatically, than any shoplifter ever would.
                              Critique accepted. However, you might have missed what I said in another post to the effect that I know stores will never do away with these flyers, and I certainly understand why.

                              Have a good day!
                              "Every betrayal begins with trust." - Brian Jacques

                              "I can't predict the future, but I know that it'll be very weird." - Anonymous

                              "There is nothing new under the sun." - Ecclesiastes 1:9

                              "History, with all its volumes vast, hath but one page." - Lord Byron

                              Comment

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