Danger Lurks – Shoplifter Apprehensions

Stopping shoplifters has become increasingly dangerous in recent years, as those desperate thieves who are committing these crimes are willing to take more risks. For example, below are seven incidents that have taken place recently:

1.Oregon: Shoplifter sentenced to 35 years in prison for chopping off part of the left ear of a security guard.

2.Alabama: A fleeing suspected shoplifter’s car wrecked after colliding with another motorist.

3.Connecticut: Upon confrontation, an alleged shoplifter announced that he had AIDS and bit the store manager on the wrist and then fled the scene.

4.Tennessee:  Police identify a wanted man with an extensive criminal record for attempting to run over a store employee with his vehicle after an alleged shoplifting incident.

5.Michigan: A woman assaulted a sheriff’s deputy by kicking and then fleeing the scene after she was observed attempting to shoplift. After a short chase, the suspect was apprehended.

6.Oregon: A fleeing shoplifting suspect turned and waved a sword, estimated to be about two feet long, when a store security employee attempted to confront him.

7.California: A shoplifting suspect fleeing police fired several shots at officers. The officers did not return fire.

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So, when it comes to approach and detention of suspected shoplifters, what is one to do?

1.) First and foremost, you must know and strictly abide by your store’s policies as they relate to suspected shoplifters. Companies may differ greatly when it comes to rules pertaining to suspected shoplifters. As result of safety and civil liability risks, some retailers have issued stringent “hands-off” policies when it comes to physically touching or restraining suspected shoplifters;  others have not.

2.) Proper training is essential. Ensure that you have been properly trained and understand your responsibilities within this most critical area.

3.) Preparation is key! Let your store associates know what actions they are to take in event you ask for assistance or to serve as a witness just prior to making your approach.

4.) Always use caution when making your approach. You never know what kind of negative impact an accusation of theft may have. The suspect may be on parole and facing serious jail-time, or perhaps even a professional person whose career is at stake. Remember, danger lurks! Always Be Careful!

5.) I have learned from many years of experience, that store personnel should NEVER chase a fleeing suspect! The risk of someone getting hurt is simply too great.  $


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