LP Magazine

JUL-AUG 2018

LP magazine publishes articles for loss prevention, asset protection, and retail professionals covering shrinkage, investigations, shoplifting, internal theft, fraud, technology, best practices, and career development.

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Deterring Determined Offenders O kay, it's not just complicated; it's complex. At least that's the opinion expressed by some tweeters recently. The "Twitterland" consensus seemed to suggest controlling crime is often more difficult than handling some medical pathologies such as broken bones. Here's their reasoning: with some exceptions, setting a broken leg now and hundred years ago is pretty much the same thing, and this applies to whether the patient is in China, Iceland, or Iowa. But trying to deter a determined offender is affected by what's been described as "a rat's nest of small effects." These effects come from multifaceted people, places, times, malfunctions, and interactions. The fancy way to say it is crime is polygenic (multiple simultaneous and sequential causes). Crime events often arise when motivated offenders come across a desirable and seemingly vulnerable target. But they don't always, or even usually, occur in those conditions. That's because it's complex. Other conditions, like an offender's situational perceptions, mood, capabilities, and so forth, play a role in an offender deciding to initiate a crime attempt. And because crime generates injuries, fear, loss, and disruption, we should take controlling it very seriously. Crime and loss control should be well thought out, focused, systematic, rigorously tested, and kept relevant and impactful. To this end, I've laid out some key concepts we might all consider. Aware-Understand-Act Sensors help and can be hotline-type reporting, transaction exceptions, audits, cycle counts, reporting, or electronic, for example. To plan and act, we need to detect or know of a problematic person, crew, pattern, or place, and the sooner the better. But we also need to carefully define the issue—in other words who, what, when, where, why, and how—to properly prescribe precisely targeted responses. Our efforts should be designed to affect offender perception and response. They should increase crime effort and detection risk and reduce potential benefits. And testing should reveal how to shape our responses to local conditions as cost-effectively as is reasonable. Crime and Place: Why Crime Emerges, Persists, and Desists in Specific Places Very few things randomly occur. There's a reason, and again, it's usually complicated. Our sensors and risk ratings should help us find priority locations (physical or digitally connected), but why are some places riskier than others and some of those especially risky? We look at what the place routinely does and carries, who leads it, how the building, parking lot, or connections are laid out, what protective tools it deploys (and how), and what is right near it. We also look at who and how many reside near it and how easy it is to get to and from it compared to other desirable targets. The more you know about problematic places, and how and why they differ from similar unproblematic places, the better you're able to affect positive change. And always remember that threat level is what a place is exposed to; vulnerability level is how well the place can handle varying threat levels. Risk levels result from the interaction of these two dynamics. And vulnerability can actually change daily depending on who's currently in charge. It's tough to affect threat levels (zone 5, beyond the parking lot), even though we're working on that. So our primary actions are shaping zone 4 (the parking lot), and zones 3 to 1, the building interior, nearby the asset, and the assets themselves. SARA: Specific Issue Problem-Solving It really is important to emphasize situational problem-solving. Problems are clustered for a reason as we've been discussing. SARA came from criminology and law enforcement's problem-oriented policing and provides a simple framework to increase impact. Find your problem (S for scan), carefully define it (A for analyze), now devise and deploy targeted solution sets (R for response), and finally review your results and of course your program execution (A for assess). It's not that difficult, and it's only our laziness that precludes this simple process. Crime creates injuries, fear, loss, and disruption, so our preventive and responsive actions should rise to the occasion. Supportive Therapies: Make Primary Treatments More Efficacious A last premise here is when putting together treatment packages, think about how they work. How do they affect an offender before or after they initiate? How might they deter or at least disrupt an offender? How do I best dose or deploy this intervention? And what other interventions might make this one work better or longer? LPRC: A Research and Results Community Our Loss Prevention Research Council (LPRC) team has absolutely enjoyed engaging with so many loss prevention/asset protection (LP) professionals, including solution developers at the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) and National Retail Federation (NRF) conferences—fantastic people working together to reduce so much crime and loss. We're also planning our 2018 LPRC Impact Conference to be held October 1–3 on the University of Florida (UF) campus. It looks like we'll have a whopping ten interactive Learning Labs this year. 36 JULY–AUGUST 2018 | LOSSPREVENTIONMEDIA.COM by Read Hayes, PhD, CPP Dr. Hayes is director of the Loss Prevention Research Council and coordinator of the Loss Prevention Research Team at the University of Florida. He can be reached at 321-303-6193 or via email at rhayes@lpresearch.org. © 2018 Loss Prevention Research Council EVIDENCE-BASED LP

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