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The Case of the Runaway Sneakers -- help us solve the case!

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  • The Case of the Runaway Sneakers -- help us solve the case!

    From Liz Martinez's column on our Retail section:

    Liz is back again looking for "in-the-field" tips about how to best solve the following real-life loss prevention case. Once again, we'll see about getting a free copy of her excellent loss prevention book to whomever provides the best answer to how to solve this case. It's a great way to test your investigation and security skills and hear what your peers think, too. See the details below...

    THE CASE OF THE RUNAWAY SNEAKERS -- help us solve the case!

    The story:

    A large sporting goods store has a full-service shoe department. Every day, the store experiences heavy losses of athletic shoes from the stockroom. Some of the thefts are discovered when an employee brings down a particular shoe for a customer and finds only an empty box. Other times, the inventory just comes up short. Customers do not have access to the stockroom, but two dozen employees do.

    The solution?

    If you have a solution or advice about how the store can stop these sneaker thefts or ideas about how they can avoid repeat problems in the stockroom, please let us know by posting your ideas as replies to this thread, or by emailing [email protected]. We'll publish the best solutions in an upcoming Retail Security column -- and you can remain anonymous if you wish.

  • #2
    Implement a reward incentive program by encouraging staff to offer a solution to STORES CHALLENGES OR PROBLEMS OF THE MONTH. Employees have lots to offer management if they were just asked for their help. After all they may be in a better position to offer solutions long before management realizes there was a problem.
    Last edited by Wayne Dionne; 08-16-2005, 11:49 PM.


    • #3
      Missing Sneakers

      I have a few suggestions on the missing sneakers: First is a covert video/DVR system which I strongly believe will capture the thieves in action. The second is to hire an undercover operative to work in the stock room to discover who is stealing and who is not. The covert video system is best as it is cost effective and can be used again and again.


      • #4
        By the Way, we do this sort of thing!

        I failed to mention in my last post that as a full service investigation and security company, we supply undercover operatives and we also will consult and recommend security systems and bring in qualified installers. For more information, contact; Jerry Heying, CPP, CEO, International Protection Group, 16 Penn Plaza, Suite 1570, New York, NY 10001. 212-947-1681



        • #5
          First we need to determine the time or times of day that this stock is found and actually reported missing. Interview those employees whom were present during those times and determine exactly who has access to the stock room {which probably everyone does} --

          Is the same employee reporting the the thefts ?

          Are the same type of sneakers and of the same size being reported missing ?

          Have one or more employees always been present when these shortages are reported ?

          One solution would be to lock down the stock room and issue each employee a comuter coded access card or key tab that can open the door{s} with this in place it can be narrowed down as to whom was in a particular area and when -- Locking systems of this nature can be costly but others inexpensive depending on the type.

          CCTV has been around for decades and is used practically everywhere these days. A small camera or cameras {depending on the room size } mounted out of view {in an air vent, small hole in a cieling tile or wall} and a recorder usually can catch a thief.

          A Loss Prevention Specialist could be present to inspect employees baggage when they leave each night -- monitor for particular individuals who frequent the store on the chance that an employee might have an outside contact who actually walks off with the merchandise. --- Loss Prevention is a cat / mouse game alot of times and actually catching someone can be difficult without the right equipment


          • #6
            It's all about awareness

            There are several questions that come up in regards to the missing shoes. Many of which have already been asked. Some additional questions are:

            1)Is there a back door to the store, and is it alarmed or monitored in any way? If so, who has access/keys to that door?

            2)Does the store management team have an employee bag inspection program? If no, why not? It would be very simple for staff to put a pair of shoes in a backpack, or even a purse.

            3)Are staff allowed in the back room by themselves? Camera's in back? If there is no 'buddy system', each employee should have to request permission to enter back room. Monitored by CCTV or simple IR door chime.

            4)Is there a store 'shrink culture'? Does staff know about theft, and how it impacts the customer, the company and themselves? Does management talk about shrink and theft on a daily basis?

            5)Is there an inventory management program? Does the store audit their inventory on a regular basis? Are there physical counts done to help identify small issues before they become out of control?

            6)Is the product being mis-shipped or mis-received? Is there an audit process for receiving product?

            7)Is the product being stolen of certain price range? If high value, maybe the store could lock up that type of shoe. This would stop the theft, and keep a good flow in and out of back room for staff.

            8)Could it be the cashier? Improper scanning of bar-codes and sku's accounts for millions of dollars in loss each year.

            9)Where does the stores garbage go? Who takes it out? Does it go out the back door into a secure compactor or to an open recepticle?

            In the end, theft is inevitable. But how much theft occurs, is controlable. Store management and supervisors should always know who is doing what in their store(s). Good floor awareness, good relationships with staff and good communication is key to reducing internal and external loss.


            • #7
              Some answers

              Since we can tell its an employee problem, the store should research the employees and do background checks if not already done. They should then match this against things like known financial problems and suspicious behaviors that may have been noticed. An employee or emplyoees who are stealing are going to show evidence in their actions, be it calling in sick often, offering poor customer service, or just coming off as a sub par employee. When employees commit to large scale theft they usually dont care about the company any more. With the large amount that seems to be missing it would seem that more than one employee is working together to steal the product.

              Ideally hidden cameras could be used to monitor the back room for suspicious activities. If that isnt an option, management could build a profile by seeing what sizes and styles are coming up missing to look for any patterns. They should also watch for employees exiting back rooms with bags, or handing off bags to customers. All backroom doors should be physically secured with only core management possesing a key to exterior exits to prevent inventory going out the back door. If the company outsources store cleaning, the cleaning crew should be monitored and checked as they leave the store. The company could check pawn shop lists, ebay auctions, and work with other stores to see if the merchandise is showing up there as a return and possibly get a common name.

              Most likely this is a case of an employee securing the merchandise and then handing it off to an off work employee or a friend and the merchandise being turned into cash somewhere else.


              • #8

                start installing cameras and recording devices,Hidden or in plain site. When inventory is shipped in do an actual phyical count, for awhile to see if the vendor is cheating the company, which it probably is not. the cameras will stop the stealing and the hidden cameras will catch the thieves that think they are fooling the cameras they see. placment of the cameras should be at the entrance and exit of the store room and others that view the general areas of stock. start checking the employees vehicles doing visual walk arounds and make the employees park in an assigned parking area at all times.

                the thief or thieves will abandon ship pretty quickly looking for easyer pickings somewhere else.



                • #9
                  Originally posted by IPSAUSA
                  I have a few suggestions on the missing sneakers: First is a covert video/DVR system which I strongly believe will capture the thieves in action. The second is to hire an undercover operative to work in the stock room to discover who is stealing and who is not. The covert video system is best as it is cost effective and can be used again and again.
                  I vote for these suggestions. (If it's not too late ) There may be more than one employee involved. Even if you catch one of them, the others may continue the theft operation. Having an undercover "employee" is an excellent way to uncover the whole operation.
                  Last edited by Mr. Security; 12-31-2005, 08:17 PM. Reason: Additional point.
                  Security: Freedom from fear; danger; safe; a feeling of well-being. (Webster's)