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Tyco - Building your defenses against organized retail crime

Tyco Retail Solutions recently published a whitepaper focused on retailers and organized retail crime. Over the next few days the Daily will be publishing the report in parts. Here's part two. To view the entire article click here.

Defenses and countermeasures
Retailers have three general lines of defense against Organized Retail Crime. Extending and refining current store-by-store efforts is a good start, and offers excellent returns on comparatively modest investments. Deploying new technologies—often moderately priced upgrades to current Loss Prevention systems—can defeat booster bags and EAS jammers, forcing thieves to adopt riskier methods or choose safer targets. And long-lasting success against Organized Retail Crime will come only from organized response, across stores, regions, and chains, and with the assistance of law enforcement agencies and public policymakers. Let’s review each approach:

Enhancing current approaches
Environment—Enhancing deterrence efforts offers the most immediate results, the greatest compatibility with current policies and training, and often the lowest costs. "We prosecute" signage, hard to peel off stickers with statements like "Sold only in XXX (retailer name)" placed on items, small changes in store layout to open sightlines in high-risk areas, and ORC-aware changes to fitting room policies and staffing also cut incident rates significantly. The visible presence of technologies like Electronic Article Surveillance and video surveillance also suppress both opportunistic and organized shoplifting.

Personnel—Visible, attentive Sales Associates are an excellent defense against ORC,but most have no idea what to look for. Training them in the behavior patterns of organized criminals often will return the time and wage investment many times over—and most retail organizations and law enforcement agencies are happy to help. Loss prevention staff are better trained, so deterrence depends on their numbers, and deployment to high risk areas. "Loss Prevention Greeters" who make eye contact with people at the store entrance, monitor the exit, and flag suspect behavior are established methods of reducing shoplifting, whether opportunistic, habitual, or organized. Loss-prevention specialists, for example investigators, offer more modest initial returns, but can improve enforcement and recovery in large-scale cases, and help build partnerships with other stores and law-enforcement agencies.

Antifraud measures—Policies that block or complicate monetization will have little effect on opportunistic or habitual local shoplifters who steal merchandise for their own use, but they strike at the heart of Organized Retail Crime. Stricter policies governing issuance of cash receipts can have a big impact: for example, simply marking "cash plus store credit" purchase receipts with the amount of cash involved blocks the most lucrative form of return fraud. And “this store only” returns policies at high-risk stores significantly impairs gift-card consolidation and online monetization.

Detection—Expanding established Electronic Article Surveillance and video surveillance programs based on patterns of organized crime raises the risk of detection, making stores far less attractive targets. Tagging and monitoring denim apparel to deter a trickle of individual thefts may not be a priority, but it makes sense when thefts occur in bulk. Utilizing video surveillance to monitor suspicious or repeating ORC criminals and alerting store associates if a theft occurs provides another opportunity to raise the risk of detection.

Tomorrow more on defenses and countermeasures including new technologies.

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