An attempted theft of two DVD players this past week resulted in a very unfortunate incident when the man died during an altercation with a store manager and security guards.

These types of altercations occur almost daily in retail environments, although they are rarely this extreme.  Some incidents result in safe and effective recovery of the product(s) while others may create more of a liability to the store than the value of merchandise they are trying to protect. Store management has a responsibility to reduce and control shrinkage or theft. However top priority should be to protect the store’s exposure to liability.

Many retail personnel are told that that need to check everyone’s bags or receipts.  These employees hold a variety of positions ranging from cashiers, greeters, managers, stockers to security officers.  They are given very little training on how to spot shoplifters and even less on how to interact, approach or detain them.  Most of the time these employees are instructed not to detain, regardless of the value, but there are always those people who feel they must recover the product and save the company’s money.  Valiant and thoughtful, but not smart.  Not in today’s world. 

In today’s world many things can go wrong when apprehending shoplifters.  This could range from making an unlawful arrest to someone being injured during the course of a lawful detention.   In either of these instances you better have the lawyer on speed dial.

Theft occurs, that is the nature of society.  Deterrence, education and training are your best defenses.  The first line of defense against theft is to put layers of barriers in place in order to detect and ultimately deter the crime from happening.  Next, make sure everyone who may come in contact with a suspected shoplifter is knowledgeable of company policies and well trained on all legal aspects pertaining to apprehending shoplifters.  Lastly, it is important to make sure to review and repeat this training regularly.