A first-of-its-kind international retail theft prevention conference was held March 9–10 at Tokyo Big Sight, Japan’s largest convention and exhibition center. The event featured subject-matter experts from the United States who offered their insights into loss prevention strategies and organized retail crime (ORC) research common in the United States to the nearly 500 attendees representing Japanese retailers, law enforcement, academia, industry associations, and technology providers. The conference was hosted by the National Shoplifting Prevention Organization (NSPO), a nonprofit group of major Japanese retail businesses, in cooperation with security solutions suppliers Takachiho Koheki and Tyco Retail Solutions.
The US contingent was coordinated by Tyco Retail, which hosted an ORC summit in October 2015 that included representatives from Japan’s NSPO. The US experts included Read Hayes, PhD, CPP, managing director of the Loss Prevention Research Council (LPRC) at the University of Florida; Claude Verville, LPC, former head of Lowe’s LP organization and now principal of Shrink & Safety Solutions; Paul Jones, LPC, previously head of eBay’s anti-fraud efforts and current COO of Turning Point Justice; Brett Detzer, director of global investigations for Walmart; and Kevin Lynch, LPC, executive director for Tyco Integrated Security.
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NSPO Chairman Yutaka Takehana greeted attendees by setting the stage for two days of collaboration in support of NSPO’s efforts for launching shrink-management initiatives to combat theft in Japan. After his opening remarks, he introduced Dr. Hayes, who delivered the keynote address on the history of shoplifting in the United States and today’s challenges. Following the event, Hayes said, “The Japanese were wonderful hosts, very open-minded, and expressed interest in more collaboration with US retailers and experts.” He also observed that the Japanese retailers appear to be focused solely on shoplifting with little regard for employee deviance and online fraud. That observation was shared by the other US attendees.
Verville presented examples of anti-shoplifting, safety, and inventory control techniques in US retail stores. “There was a great deal of dialogue about theft problems in Japan’s drugstores and bookstores, where anime books are popular theft items,” he said. “There seems to be a huge need in Japan for what the LPRC is doing for our industry here in the US. In addition, not unlike some companies in the US, they need to take a more holistic approach to shrink reduction to include operational issues and internal controls rather than focusing only on shoplifting.”
Based on his long career in loss prevention and recent experience at eBay, Jones discussed battling ORC online and how US drugstore chains are partnering to battle ORC. According to Jones, “The Japanese retailers don’t have a lot of data regarding theft. Plus, they measure theft in a different way than we do in the US. They need to develop a resource like the LPRC to help them share data.” He also presented the concept of restorative justice in the United States and expects to work with NSPO in the future on a program in Japan.
Walmart’s Detzer reinforced the idea of data sharing in his presentation on fighting shoplifting and ORC at general merchandise stores through regional collaboration with retailers. Tyco Retail’s Lynch addressed the attendees on the latest technology in retail loss prevention, including the integration of EAS with RFID, people counting, metal detection, jamming detection, and other EAS advancements.
The five Americans also sat together on a panel with several Japanese retail security experts to answer questions from the audience. The panelists shared best practices and real-world experiences in their respective countries.
At the end of the conference, Gabriel De Jesus, global director of strategic accounts for Tyco Retail Solutions, delivered closing remarks and highlighted the value of NSPO’s forward-thinking initiative to host the collaborative exchange of ideas and solutions for the benefit of retailers, law enforcement, and customers.
The conference generated a great deal of interest from the Japanese national media. In a press conference following the event, NSPO’s Takehana offered his insights on the success of this first-time event and the valuable insights gleaned from the US delegates on tangible solutions for retail theft prevention. He declared his organization’s commitment to use a more proactive and practical methodology to help effectively reduce shoplifting in Japan.