Amidst a rising tide of organized retail crime (ORC), the retail industry has been diligently working with legislators to support policy that makes employees, customers, and businesses safer. What often appears to be a simple shoplifting event can be just the tip of a much larger spear.
Large ORC organizations use individual boosters to steal products that are gathered and moved on up the chain, often filling shipping containers before being shipped overseas or sold in lots to illegitimate storefronts. While law enforcement, loss prevention professionals, and the judicial system work to take down criminal empires, it can be easy to forget the most vulnerable in the process: the retail employee.
Educating employees on company policies relating to armed robberies and coordinated group thefts is fundamentally important. However, when employees find themselves in the overwhelming experience of being face-to-face with a thief who is determined to escape out the front door with stolen products, most employees forget what they should and should not do. Is it policy for them to confront a thief over an armload of goods? No. Will they do it anyway? The answer is often yes.
A theft at a grocery store in Olympia last week helped shine some light on the dangers of an employee attempting to stop a theft in progress. The thief was confronted by a loss prevention employee who punched him several times before pulling out a knife and cutting him. No product in a store is worth an employee’s life, health, or well-being.