LP Magazine

JAN-FEB 2019

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.

Issue link: http://digital.lpportal.com/i/1078914

Contents of this Issue


Page 20 of 77

SHOPLIFTING RESPONSE, REACTION, AND RECOURSE These criticisms add to the sense of frustration in the retail industry. It seems that some want retailers to solve a societal issue that is not of their own making without any regard to the competitive nature of their core businesses and the need to skew their policies to favor of their legitimate, honest customers who make up the vast majority of their businesses, while taking away many of the criminal sanctions or police response that would be expected historically. The Search for Alternative Solutions Retail companies are in business to sell merchandise—not to catch shoplifters. Naturally, these businesses would much rather avoid theft in their stores and have taken many steps and allocated tremendous resources toward these efforts. In today's dynamic and competitive environment where the wants and needs of the customer remains our greatest priority, there needs to be a balance between protecting merchandise and ensuring our products are available and accessible to the customer. Brand, image, price, quality, convenience, and service are hallmarks that drive the success of every company, and that can't and won't change if the company hopes to remain in business. Over the past several decades, retail has made significant changes in response to shoplifters and other forms of retail crime. First and foremost, today's retail companies have stressed deterrence as a primary response to theft, focusing on customer service, employee training and awareness, advanced prevention tools, cutting-edge technology, and similar measures to dissuade the theft problem. When shoplifting does occur, increased implementation of "no chase" and "no touch" policies and a willingness to let violent shoplifters go rather than attempt to physically detain them has become a common industry practice. Yet despite ongoing efforts to deter shoplifting, the problem persists. In fact, with the lack of police response and a reduction in the consequences for stealing, the doors have opened to a more persistent problem and the potential for a more volatile criminal element. This leaves retailers searching for new and better ways to respond to protect their products, their customers, their employees, and their businesses. In response to the reduction in criminal sanctions, the lack of police response, and the criticism that retailers may be overutilizing public resources, retailers have sought out alternative programs to provide sanctions for shoplifting and control the huge financial impact on the retail industry. These include the use of civil demand programs, which have statutory endorsement in the majority of states, and the recent introduction of "restorative justice" programs. Civil Recovery Programs The use of civil recovery has been widely supported in the retail loss prevention industry for over thirty years, and all states have provided statutory provisions for these programs. Civil recovery laws make any person who unlawfully steals or tries to steal merchandise liable to the merchant. In simple language, this means that a shoplifter can be financially penalized by a merchant for stealing or attempting to steal from them—even if the merchandise is recovered. These laws do not in any way prohibit a merchant from taking additional legal action against the offender, such as turning them over to police or pursuing prosecution for the crime. They are designed to impose financial penalties on shoplifters to offset costs directly associated with the tools and personnel required to defend against shoplifting and related crime—a practice that would appear fair and reasonable. "Civil recovery is a tried and true process backed by statutes that are state-specific. These programs, when managed with an ethical and transparent focus, address recidivism while helping a company's bottom line," stated Stuart Levine, CEO of The Zellman Group. Maintaining a civil recovery program with processes that are uniform and fair from beginning to end is paramount. For example, high-dollar demands and added fees are often at the root of legal inquiries. Retailers in partnership with their service providers should set consistent standards within established statutory guidelines—but not necessarily at the maximum penalty allowed by the state. Stuart Levine 19 LP MAGAZINE | JANUARY–FEBRUARY 2019 As retailers face the many challenges of an evolving society, we must also continue to search for the best and most productive solutions to all the needs of the business. This requires an ongoing effort to challenge ourselves and our decisions to ensure that we provide the best possible outcomes.

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