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  • Covert vs Spy? What style are you?

    Here's an interesting LP topic I discussed with some co-workers.

    What 'style' do you find works best for you? Do you walk around covertly, blend in, and try to 'catch' people in the act?

    Or do you focus on one person and 'spy' on them, by ducking behind objects and make no effort to conceal your motive to other customers?

    Are there any particularly effective strategies you employ?

    I'm on kind of a rut, and I'm having difficulty catching people for some reason I'm looking at some good, effective means of 'catching' shoplifters. The apprehension part is the easy part.

  • #2
    Hotel security used to operate like you people. Over the years we have become more prevention orientated so much so that a lot of hotels have dropped the plainclothes & gone to uniforms. I wonder if LP in retail stores will ever go the same way?
    I enforce rules and regulations, not laws.
    Security Officers. The 1st First Responders.

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    • #3
      Uniformed Presence

      Trying to "catch" shoplifters is like trying to swat flies - no matter how many you get, there's always another one. Better to scare thieves away rather than tying up precious resources with apprehension and prosecution. With the time and money you will spend on the arrest/prosecution/medical care for assaults, etc., you can afford to hire more LPO's. BTW: the P in the acronym stands for what?
      Security: Freedom from fear; danger; safe; a feeling of well-being. (Webster's)

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Mr. Security View Post
        Trying to "catch" shoplifters is like trying to swat flies - no matter how many you get, there's always another one. Better to scare thieves away rather than tying up precious resources with apprehension and prosecution. With the time and money you will spend on the arrest/prosecution/medical care for assaults, etc., you can afford to hire more LPO's. BTW: the P in the acronym stands for what?
        Haha. Yeah, but I'm part of a contract security company, hired to do Loss Prevention. Sadly, my particular position is to investigate loss and stop it from occurring, in a retail enviornment not of my choosing (so, I have no say in layout or anything like that).

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        • #5
          Covert means to act in a manner to be undetected and refers to spying or as we say in the industry - observation. Why would you "spy" on anyone when you have the - eye in the sky CCTV system to do the work for you as your floor staff stand back ?

          Prevention is the best cure and whilst it is hard to determine HOW MUCH you save from prevention in exact amounts you can see how much is not being stolen in audits and inventory checks to measure yourself. Where I worked in the heart of the city was a thieves paradise and as LPM there, I knew 80% of the repeat offenders along with my crew. So when they were arrested I put the hard word on them to tell them - tell your friends to go away from here. We will take you down for anything and we got tough with everyone - so naturally when theft dropped it was asked how we did it and so forth - just be proactive and not shine a seat with your backside.
          "Keep your friends close and your enemies even closer" Sun Tzu

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          • #6
            Originally posted by NRM_Oz View Post
            Covert means to act in a manner to be undetected and refers to spying or as we say in the industry - observation. Why would you "spy" on anyone when you have the - eye in the sky CCTV system to do the work for you as your floor staff stand back ?

            Prevention is the best cure and whilst it is hard to determine HOW MUCH you save from prevention in exact amounts you can see how much is not being stolen in audits and inventory checks to measure yourself. Where I worked in the heart of the city was a thieves paradise and as LPM there, I knew 80% of the repeat offenders along with my crew. So when they were arrested I put the hard word on them to tell them - tell your friends to go away from here. We will take you down for anything and we got tough with everyone - so naturally when theft dropped it was asked how we did it and so forth - just be proactive and not shine a seat with your backside.
            Very interesting.

            The problem with our CCTV cameras is partially useless in that aspect. There's only ever one of us on, and even if we catch someone stealing on the camera, we lose continuity when we physically go see them, so we cannot arrest. So our arrests have to be personally seen, and continuity must be maintained.

            Don't get me wrong, we 'spook' those we suspect is shoplifting out of continuing to do so, and I get a ton of recoveries. We never get to see our success in audits, either. We simply know we do well, because we keep our contract.

            I'm looking at joining an in-house LP department though.

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            • #7
              Not much of an answer, I know.

              This won't help much, but if you are getting, "a ton of recoveries," and are, "keeping your contract," it sounds to me like you are doing pretty good.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by bpdblue View Post
                This won't help much, but if you are getting, "a ton of recoveries," and are, "keeping your contract," it sounds to me like you are doing pretty good.
                I agree. But it may be from my co-worker's performance, and not my own.

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                • #9
                  Everyone is responsible for LP just like work safety - as I remind our sales people - if you don't have it to sell then you don't have the $$$ coming to pay our wages each week.

                  Could you discuss your LP situation with your local Cop Shop and suggest a scheme for more drive pasts with a visual presence ?
                  Last edited by NRM_Oz; 10-31-2007, 10:12 PM.
                  "Keep your friends close and your enemies even closer" Sun Tzu

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                  • #10
                    Nauticus, if you have been finding items on shelves that they don't belong on, especially semi-expensive, to expensive items, on the days you have been working, you have done well. Most of those items being left behind are probably the direct result of your actions in putting the fear of "THE MAN" into the persons who had the items, and decided to drop them off in the store.

                    So again I say it looks like YOUR doing a good job.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Nauticus View Post
                      Here's an interesting LP topic I discussed with some co-workers.

                      What 'style' do you find works best for you? Do you walk around covertly, blend in, and try to 'catch' people in the act?

                      Or do you focus on one person and 'spy' on them, by ducking behind objects and make no effort to conceal your motive to other customers?

                      Are there any particularly effective strategies you employ?

                      I'm on kind of a rut, and I'm having difficulty catching people for some reason I'm looking at some good, effective means of 'catching' shoplifters. The apprehension part is the easy part.
                      The most successful operation of which I am aware involved an agent monitoring CCTV and alerting floor agents to suspicious activity using the "casino" model, so to speak. These agents took the "blending-in" approach, wearing grubbies and carrying shopping bags, talking with <no one, really> on their cell phones, horsing around with each other, etc. They were noticeable, but not as LP agents. They would gradually move into position as "shoppers" in the vicinity of the suspect where they could observe his activities without appearing to pay any attention to him.

                      You mention using obvious overt surveillance and "not concealing your motives from other shoppers". The problem with that idea is that those "other shoppers" may be working with your suspect. Retail theft has emerged as an organized criminal activity, often conducted by groups of sophisticated criminals, so I would suggest that overt surveillance of the type that other shoppers would recognize as surveillance is probably not a good approach.
                      Last edited by SecTrainer; 10-31-2007, 10:24 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

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                      • #12
                        Agreed - you can measure this in the amount of money that can be seen where the items are not sitting at a register where they have been dumped by cash strapped customers but those who may second guess their actions. I once found gourmet bottles of oil concealed under some shirts after high profiling some trouble makers. It was $400 US of this truffle oil in 5 oz bottles and that can be measured as a recovery.
                        "Keep your friends close and your enemies even closer" Sun Tzu

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by SecTrainer View Post
                          The most successful operation of which I am aware involved an agent monitoring CCTV and alerting floor agents to suspicious activity using the "casino" model, so to speak. These agents took the "blending-in" approach, wearing grubbies and carrying shopping bags, talking with <no one, really> on their cell phones, horsing around with each other, etc. They were noticeable, but not as LP agents. They would gradually move into position as "shoppers" in the vicinity of the suspect where they could observe his activities without appearing to pay any attention to him.

                          You mention using obvious overt surveillance and "not concealing your motives from other shoppers". The problem with that idea is that those "other shoppers" may be working with your suspect. Retail theft has emerged as an organized criminal activity, often conducted by groups of sophisticated criminals, so I would suggest that overt surveillance of the type that other shoppers would recognize as surveillance is probably not a good approach.
                          Very good point, and I agree.

                          However, we only have 1 LPO working at any given time, at a store. We don't have surveillience guys, and takedown teams. Hell, the stores we're contracted to don't allow us to use our phones while on duty, despite it being an excellent ruse (we tend to use them anyway).

                          The organized retail crime is one of the things we're preparing for. It hasn't hit my area yet, and we don't have the manpower to curb it, but when it comes, I expect changes to be made.

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                          • #14
                            Covert

                            I have to walk the floor, our cameras are not all that great, no PTZ's or anything. I haven't been catching anyone so I am trying to just watch anyone and everyone. I was looking around a corner, crouched down because this guy was taking forever to look at toothpaste and travel items. I could have sworn he put some colgate in his coat pocket. Only worth a dollar so I figured I can just watch him and see if he takes anything else. This old man sees me and gets all angry at me. He shouts, "what the hell are you looking at?!" I tried to point at the guy and shush him, but he got mad and said it louder. Cover was blown, and that guy probably stole a few things while we were busy. I told him I was with store security and it's my job, but he just got more angry every time I spoke. He was like, "you're all playing *^&ing peekabo and &^%$."
                            Top Flight

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                            • #15
                              Working an internal case, I filmed the refund clerk refunding cash to `her pocket` when I spot a well known female SL on a monitor, loading items inside a suitcase set. The store LPO takes over CCTV as I hit the floor to follow the SL to apprehend. After 3 minutes, she loads up more items when a male customer taps me on the shoulder and says "I know what you are doing, mate". I looked at him and said "Ok. I need to continue so please don't tell anyone. He becomes angry and says "you've been watching that young girl, you bloody stalker (she was 23) !!. I radioed the LPO and asked her to continue observation as I flashed my security licence and said "look I am store security and very busy so please let me do my job". The SM hears the customer then swear at me and offers customer service before the male customer storms out yelling abuse.

                              The SL moves to the cashiers to pay for the suitcase set (inside her trolley and some smaller items. As she leaves the EAS barriers activate and I approach her to make the arrest. 2 police officers are walking to me with the male customer pointing at me saying "that's him !!". We bring the SL inside and the police arrest her, finding $1900 of items inside the bag, false IDs and other stuff in her handbag. The male customer had told the police I was a stalker inside the store so they came to investigate me. So I had a $1900 SL (arrest #3 by me) and 2 staff members for refund fraud in 4.5 hours.
                              "Keep your friends close and your enemies even closer" Sun Tzu

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