LP Magazine

JAN-FEB 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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POWER TO THE PEOPLE Robert Oberosler O ne day in October of 2017, a man of medium build entered a Rite Aid in one of the nation's largest cities, approached the register, and demanded cash. As the drawer was being opened, the subject flung himself over the counter, grabbing whatever cash he could. He fled on foot, leaving behind a shaken cashier, and by the time police arrived, the unknown subject had safely dissolved back into the surrounding community. Unfortunately, often, this type of story ends right here. But this real-life crime drama has an unusual second act, which picks up a few days later when a woman some miles away checks her social media feed and sees a surveillance snapshot of the Rite Aid robber with a note about a $5,000 reward for information leading to his arrest. The face in the picture is familiar. She clicks on the link to Solveacrime.com and starts filling out the website's tip form. She types in information on the suspect, and it is submitted to Solveacrime.com for follow up. A few days later the subject is apprehended. Just like that, a very different ending to the story—and a conclusion that is becoming increasingly common in robbery and assault events at Rite Aid stores, according to Robert Oberosler, group vice president of asset protection at Rite Aid. Oberosler is an advocate of Solveacrime because this crowdsourcing tool is quite effective in closing more cases than before and doing so in record time. It is also a strong deterrent by putting criminals on notice that if you rob a Rite Aid, your picture will be plastered everywhere online. The site is less than a year old but is already proving to effectively leverage the power of social media for retail victims of crime. "It's unbelievable the amount of views a crime posting will get in a geographic area, and the number of times it's forwarded on social media to someone else," remarked Oberosler. "We've seen posts with several thousand views in the first hour and as many forwards." Tips solicited through the site have directly resulted in numerous apprehensions for Rite Aid and a more than twofold increase in its case-closure rate. "We're now closing over 50 percent of our violent crimes within a week," said Oberosler. "It has become one of the most interesting and quick successes that I have ever had with a new solution and I've been in AP for forty years." That the platform's value to retailers will grow alongside the number of crime posts and tipsters is why many law enforcement officers, as well as people who are responsible for asset protection for major retailers, feel they should fully utilize this important new crime-solving technology tool. They see that it can, as Oberosler says, "put a lot of pressure on the ORC operators stealing for resale as well as let them know we know them and are sharing information about them that will help us identify and make them accountable for their actions." Most importantly, Oberosler sees the solution as capable of reshaping LP's role vis-a-vis crime. "Our industry plays defense, and we do it pretty darn well. Once in a while we'll be on offense, and we'll do some surveillance and, with law enforcement, take down some big fencing operation, but for the most part and most of the time, we are on defense," explained Oberosler. "But this tool allows me to play on offense." The most surprising upside has been the speed with which tips come in and cases get solved. "Law The site is less than a year old but is already proving to effectively leverage the power of social media for retail victims of crime. 16 JANUARY–FEBRUARY 2018 | LOSSPREVENTIONMEDIA.COM

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