Shoplifting – Danger Lurks

If you have been a subscriber to our quarterly newsletter “The Hayes Report on Loss Prevention” over the past years, you likely have read a few warnings about those dangers arising when anyone attempts to stop or confront a suspected shoplifter.

Since our most recent newsletter (Summer 2018) contains our 30th Annual Retail Theft Report, I thought it may be worthwhile to issue this critical safety reminder.

Below is just a “sampling” of recent 2018 cases citing the dangers involved when a store employee,  customer, or police officer encounters an alleged thief:

  • Texas: A store Loss Prevention agent noticed a man behaving suspiciously and possibly trying to steal something. An off-duty police officer working at the store detained the man and found he had a felony warrant. Two police officers arrived and confirmed he was a wanted man, and when trying to arrest him, the man pulled out a handgun shot the officers and LP agent before fleeing. One police officer died from his injuries, and the other officer and store LP agent were hospitalized.
  • Kansas: Loss prevention associate observed a man and woman exit the store with a home surveillance system for which they didn’t pay. When the couple got outside, the LP officer tried to stop them and got into a struggle with the woman. The man then shot the associate who was taken to a nearby hospital where he was treated and released.
  • Tennessee: Police are searching for a man who they are calling a violent shoplifter. Police said when the store clerk confronted the shoplifter, he allegedly knocked the store clerk into a shelf. The man reportedly got away with several items worth hundreds of dollars.
  • Illinois: Shoplifters at a big city’s clothing store have punched, shoved and even spit on employees, who have reported the problem and are still waiting for help, a store manager said. “I can no longer keep my staff safe because I can’t keep myself safe and I don’t know what to do.

Unfortunately, violence is the name of the game: some suspects in their desperate attempt to escape will pull and use a weapon. Others, resort to assaulting anyone in their pathway to freedom. Most importantly, know your Company=s policy pertaining to what actions are to be taken in event a suspected theft is observed.

Experiences show the greatest risk of serious injury to a store employee or customer is likely to occur when:

– Aggressive contact/confrontation with the suspect

– Chases inside & outside of a store

– Pursuing suspect into a parking lot

– Chasing a suspect in a vehicle

Remember, if we can get just one LP member, manager, or associate to alter any past high-risk approach and turn those actions into a positive strategy, the message in this article is worthwhile! Don’t ignore the risks involved. Always, follow company policies … Stay alert!  $

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