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3 Key Technology Trends in Retail & The Security Risks

With all of the technology available for improving security and the customer service experience, loss prevention remains staggeringly high. Retailers can improve the customer experience through technology while also understanding how to mitigate the security risks technology can create.

Below are some key technology trends retailers are implementing, but they still need to have checks and balances.

Facial Recognition


Facial recognition systems can benefit retailers by identifying when key clients are in the store, recognizing when a suspect has trespassed and identify recurring shoplifters.

Retailers must remember they still require a trained professional to review and analyze the facial recognition system at all times. They also need to have a support team to act on potential threats. Even when facial recognition technology is programmed correctly, there is still the possibility of errors to occurring for various reasons such as disguises, image clarity, power outages, etc.

Prepaid Cards

Prepaid cards make a great gift or reward, but it has also created a criminal industry that is on the rise. Some retailers are no longer accepting prepaid cards as a form of payment.

Retailers and financial institutions are looking into checks and balances to support the customer, hoping to continue the use of prepaid cards.

Self-Payment Systems

Self-payment systems are beneficial for grocery and big box stores, but retailers still need to have physical security presence, aside from technology, to help monitor purchases to avoid shoplifting or accidental theft.

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4 Tips for Loss Prevention in Retail


With the holiday season is fast approaching, retailers need to ensure loss prevention practices become part of their everyday routine.

Security is not an illusion – meaning your customers need to know that you are a security-minded store. All personnel must be included in your security program. Having security presence is also a great way to deter and prevent theft. Customers do not enter a store with the intent to steal – 80% of robberies happen when a customer sees an opportunity.

Below are some additional tips:

  • The best theft deterrent is great customer service
    • Thieves do not like attention and need to be left alone to have the opportunity to steal
  • Identify key areas of concern and turn them into hot zones for customer engagement
    • Ensure all employees know which areas are the highest priority
    • Identify the areas on a store map if available
    • Ask employees to walk through the hot zones frequently
  • Treat everyone who walks through your doors as a potential customer
    • Thieves will not always exhibit the same behaviour – train all staff to approach each person and offer great customer service
  • Make it apparent to thieves that you take security seriously and ensure the measures you have in place are well displayed

To learn more about how ASAP Secured can help with loss prevention please visit: www.asapsecured.com

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10 Suspicious Behaviours Associated with Retail Theft

Are you aware of the suspicious behaviours associated with retail theft? See our list below of the 10 Suspicious Behaviours Associated with Retail Theft!

  1. Suspect(s) carrying empty and/or large shopping bags.
  2. Suspect(s) entering stores with backpacks or duffle bags.
  3. Suspect(s) taking merchandise to restrooms.
  4. Suspect(s) dressed in heavy clothing and unseasonal attire to help conceal stolen goods.
  5. Suspect(s) shopping with strollers and/or carts.
  6. Suspect(s) piling stacks of merchandise.
  7. Suspect(s) looking at ceilings and cameras.
  8. Suspect(s) overly friendly and asking a lot of questions as a distraction tactic.
  9. Suspect(s) paying more attention to staff and their location then the actual merchandise.
  10. Suspect(s) moving merchandise from it’s original area to a lower visibility area of the store. Typically a less travelled or low visibility area of the store.

Learn more by watching our retail theft webinar, click here. To learn how ASAP Secured can help fight retail theft visit: www.asapsecured.com

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Loss Prevention Investigations; Should Training be Standardized?

Over the years, I have seen the role of a loss prevention investigator change dramatically. There are so many variances to the job description that to find a loss prevention investigator to support your needs of the client is becoming more and more difficult.
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All loss prevention investigators follow the same five steps to apprehend a shoplifter. However, due to all the liabilities associated with the role, the requirements of how to mitigate these risks have altered the duty to whether a loss prevention investigator should apprehend or deter. Some are being asked not to arrest, wear a uniform, and work with store associates to have the suspects ‘customer serviced’. This new approach to loss prevention is making it more and more difficult to find loss prevention skillsets.

When I interview for loss prevention positions, many of the candidates have loss prevention experience but no formal training or certification. Even at a provincial level, there doesn’t seem to be a training model on consensus or requirements.

We need to evaluate a standard, ensuring that all loss prevention investigators are properly trained. With such a highly liable roll and no standard of training begs the question if this should be a focus for the industry?

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Bags Will be Filled

179-015‘Tis the season for families and friends to get together. For some, this means travelling to loved ones or taking a vacation. It is also the time when bags get packed with gifts and goodies, but not by Santa Claus. I am talking about criminals who are waiting to find empty houses and take advantage of the holiday season. Here are some ways to protect your home and yourself over the holidays.

  1. Secure Your Valuables

If you are leaving a car parked on the street or driveway while you are away, make sure you remove all valuables from plain sight. This includes any clothing, electronics, bags, etc. Even if you leave your car in the garage, you should also remove all valuables to make sure they remain safe if someone breaks into your garage. It is also wise to place any important documents and jewelry in a safe inside of your home, a safe deposit box or a hidden secure location.

  1. Don’t Post Your Travel Plans Online

Although you might be excited about your vacation plans and want to share them with friends, it could end up being an invitation for thieves. This is especially true if you do not have strict privacy settings on your social media accounts. You are sharing this information with people you do not know. That is why it is important to be aware whenever you are posting your travel plans and location online.

  1. Have a Family Member, Friend or Neighbour Check In

Tell someone you trust — such as a family member, neighbour or friend — that you will be gone so that they can be on alert for any suspicious activity. Give them a spare key so they can go to the house daily to make sure everything is OK and bring any mail or packages inside. Mail piling up is a dead giveaway that no one is home.

  1. Hold Mail and Deliveries

If you cannot have someone you trust stop by your home to check the mail every day, call the postal service and request a hold on your mail until you are back home. You should also consider holding any deliveries or regular subscription services you receive at home, like newspapers and magazines.

  1. Make It Look like Someone is Always Home

Keep all blinds and curtains closed when you are not home. Have your lights set on a timer or solar switch while you are away, to make it appear as if someone is always there. This could help to ward off any would-be invaders.

  1. Lock All Doors and Windows

This one is a given, but there are a few things to keep in mind. Make sure all your doors and windows have working locks and remember to remove all spare keys to your house or any keys sitting in locks throughout your home. This is important because someone could get into your house, steal these keys without you knowing, and then use the keys to gain access to your home again in the future. Also, it is important to remember to not run any extension cords through windows for your outdoor holiday lights. This prevents the window from closing properly, and burglars will see this as an easy entry point.

  1. Install a Home Security System

Whether you are home or away, a home security system can give you the peace of mind in knowing your home and valuables are secure.

 

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Holiday season in Retail

For retailers, the holiday season is the most important time of the year, as this is when most of their revenue is generated. Unfortunately, it also the time of year when theft increases.

A recently published report revealed the downside of holiday shopping, which included increased shrink, significantly impacting a retailers’ ability to see a healthy profit margin during the final quarter.

According to the 2016 retail holiday season global forecast, retailers are expected to experience both their heaviest sales volumes and their weakest performances as it relates to margin rates during Q4, due primarily to increased shrink and theft from both internal (employee theft and fraud) and external (shoplifting, organized retail crime) sources.

The report stated that in North America, the holiday season contributes roughly 34% of a retailers’ annual sales base but also incurred 37% of its annual shrink loss. Overall, shrink during the fourth quarter is about 15% higher than the rest of the year.

“This time of the year there are a variety of different things impacting brick-and-mortar stores. On one side of the fence, there is the traditional mindset that people think about Black Friday, the fourth quarter and the holiday season as being robust and beneficial for retailers when it’s actually somewhat the opposite in many cases,” retail loss prevention analyst and report author Ernie Deyle says.

There are a few things that retailers can do to prevent an increase in shrinkage. It all starts with a holiday plan (play book) that outlines the specific measures that need to be taken. It is important to make security a part of the overall plan. Although security is usually driven by the security department, loss prevention should be the responsibility of all store associates. The plan should be detailed and cover the extra measures that need to be put in place as well as detailed task lists. Most retailers will ask for additional guards or loss prevention officers. They also need to ensure their CCTV systems and other security devices are in working order. It is important to train staff in advance and conduct daily briefings, so staff members and security personnel are aware of their specific roles. Areas with increased risk of theft should be identified and turned into zones with increased customer engagement with staff. The task list can be divided into three categories such as opening, closing and during business hours.

The opening task list should contain elements like:

  • Checking merchandise for proper security (tags)
  • Ensuring the electronic article surveillance (EAS) gates are working for high traffic
  • Validate locked areas (merchandise cabinets) and perimeter openings
  • Validate that all PIN pads/payment devices are secure

During business hours, it is key to recognize suspicious behaviour and increased risk factors, such as:

  • People coming in with empty or large shopping bags
  • People taking merchandise into bathrooms
  • Heavy clothing and unusual attire
  • People with strollers or carts
  • PiIing stacks of merchandise
  • Overly friendly people asking question as a distraction tactic
  • People paying extra attention to the location, checking cameras
  • Moving merchandise from busy areas to more remote places in the store

The closing task list should contain elements like:

  • Conducting a thorough walk of the store
  • Checking fitting rooms, bathrooms and corners of the store
  • Validate locked areas and doors
  • Ensure that all pinpads / payment devices are secure

I surely hope that the holiday season will give the retailers good sales and a healthy margin with no incidents to speak of.

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Pilferage

80% of any theft is opportunistic. Depending on the work environment, putting security measures in place can prevent a good percentage of opportunistic theft. It is human nature for many who see items lying around to pick them up for themselves.

Loss prevention, cargo theft, and counterfeit are all very common buzzwords and industry concerns. One term that is not frequently talked about is pilferage. Pilferage is the theft of part of the contents of a package. This contributes to inventory shrinkage, cargo theft and the world of counterfeit. It is a theft that is estimated at over $15 billion dollars in loss.Photo

Yes, in many markets it is typically perceived that the cost of a security program doesn’t justify mitigating the risk of pilferage. We at ASAP have successfully shown our clients ways this can be accomplished in a cost effective manner.

“Solutions involve all phases of product production, packaging, distribution, logistics, sale, and use. No single solution is considered as ‘pilfer proof’. Often, packaging engineers, logistics engineers, and security professionals have addressed multiple levels of security to reduce the risk of pilfering”. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Package_pilferage

Each situation is unique, but a good place to start is to have a security audit done. Security audits can not only educate employees and improve pilfer resistance but also help investigate feasible methods and who the potential pilferer might be.

Pilferage is a worldwide concern and companies realize that it needs to be addressed. A security program should complement the risk and its cost justification.

It is not easy gathering examples of pilferage as they are client specific and confidential in nature. However, it is a security risk that impacts inventory for many companies and an area that should not be overlooked.

Click here to learn more about theft and pilferage.

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Where Did You Buy That?

Quite often we see empty warehouse units that are used for selling mass products over a short period of time. There is usually a huge banner in the front of the warehouse that tells you what sale is going on. They have great sales and I do love good deals, but sometimes these sales can be stolen items. I try to only go to manufacturer supported ware house sales. But the other day, I was taken back when I heard that the warehouse sale I went to was suspected to be full of stolen products. I really thought this sale was endorsed by the manufacturer themselves. The reality is that many honest shoppers have no idea they may be buying stolen items. Stolen products can be sold to buyers in stores, warehouses, and flea markets to name a few. I am definitely not painting every warehouse sale or flea market with the same brush. But I do not want to contribute to the purchase of any part of the supply chain of stolen goods. Getting these great deals and closing your eyes to where they came from is one way to support cargo theft. If these thieves know they can sell these products, then the vicious cycle of organized crime through cargo theft continues. Cargo theft is estimated at $5 billion a year in Canada alone. Unfortunately, these crimes are rarely publicized. The manufacturing and/or distribution channels do not want to publicize their product being stolen to protect their brand reputation and/or minimize insurance costs. The average consumer has no idea that these products are a result of cargo crime.

The stolen products range from electronics, cars, alcohol, food, and various household items. At a recent raid, York Region Police recovered a truckload of stolen candy worth more than $200,000. As a consumer, I would never imagine that buying candy for my kids at a store may have been stolen. We as buyers need to educate ourselves on what is legit and what stores are potentially supporting organized crime. The supply chain from manufacturing, transportation to distribution need to also contribute to preventing theft through due diligence. You can minimize the impact of cargo theft by becoming educated on cargo security, truck-hijacking-robbery-training, vendor recruitment driver validation and point-to-point escorts.

TruckLast November, CTV News W5 gave their viewers a taste to how serious this issue is in Canada. Watch Video Here.

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The Holiday Season!

The holiday season is great for retailers. It is the time to increase sales and make those numbers. As a security professional servicing retailers, protecting our customers’ assets is constantly on my mind. Even on Christmas Day, security personnel dedicated their holidays to make sure that the buildings were protected in preparation for when businesses opened. While I enjoyed time with my family, in back of my mind I was thinking about Boxing Day and how we needed to be prepared to mitigate all risks. For ASAP, we had to formulate back up plans to ensure our services for our retail clients during one of Canada’s busiest retail days. Malls were going to be swamped with customers getting great deals. Security needed to be in full deployment. Traffic control, crowd control, and loss prevention are all required key elements. In additional to these security concerns, is the possibility of an active shooter. The reality is, Canadians are now exposed to terrorism as well, and security needs to be ready to identify vulnerabilities and mitigate risk.

At ASAP, every manager across the country, including our president Han Koren, is provided a zone on Boxing Day to support the security personnel on the field. We are up at 4:00am to get to the malls to ensure that all is going smooth.

Prior to Boxing Day, we connect with our clients to ensure that we are there to support and provide the security program our customers expect. Mall security needs to focus on all common spaces, manage traffic control, crowd control as well as criminal groups of any kind as a possible threat to the retailers. Security personnel at the stores need to watch for theft, credit card fraud, and counterfeit cash.

Watch this interesting video on organized retail crime coming into Canada targeting specifically the high-end jewellery retailers.

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Security Measures in a Retail Setting

There are many security measures that contribute to deterring fraud in a retail setting. In a perfect world, the only goal for retailers is to focus on selling their product. But in reality, understanding the product and selling is now only one element to the role of a sales associate.

Sales associates need to have an understanding of loss prevention in order to support their security program. Fraud attacks the retail industry through many channels. A security program is part of doing business for most retailers. A program can encompass many different elements such as:
Loss Risk Profit

  • Product Delivery
  • Brand Protection
  • Data Analysis and Trending
  • Inventory and Shrink
  • Internal Theft
  • External Theft with Countless Shoplifting Techniques
  • Merchandise Type and Market Demand
  • Store Location
  • Organized Retail Crime
  • Credit Card Fraud
  • Gift Card Fraud
  • Counterfeit
  • Internal Theft
  • Social Media
  • Travel Risk

There are distinct roles that are required in a retail setting when it comes to a sucessful security program. Loss prevention investigators can focus on areas of internal theft as well as support the retailer to apprehend shoplifters. Security guards can support inventory control measures and work diligently towards deterrence.

The right security expert will support your budget and help create a program that works for your company.

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