Ask the Expert: The Latest Organized Retail Crime Trends

Interview with Kris Vece, LPQ, LPC

Vece has almost twenty years of experience in the security industry and joined Protos in 2015. She is currently the vice president of strategic accounts at Protos and plays an integral role in overseeing all aspects of sales and client relations. Vece is a member of the Loss Prevention Foundation (LPF) and LP Magazine Vendor Advisory Board, and holds her LPQ and LPC certifications from the LPF. Through her dedicated focus on excellence and relationships cultivated over the years, she has earned a reputation as a security and loss prevention expert.

Kris Vece, LPQ, LPC

We know the pandemic affected organized crime. How has that evolved in these post‑pandemic times?

With the use of face masks, shoplifters feel a sense of anonymity and violent crimes have increased greatly. During the pandemic, many violent crimes took place by just asking a customer to wear a mask. Physical security teams are highly trained to detect these crimes and know how to identify someone attempting to mask or hide.

- Sponsors -

What can vendors do to help reduce violence in the retail industry?

Vendors need to partner with retailers to make sure they have clear communication lines when finding solutions to help retailers. Another option is to survey customers. For example, if a survey finds that the parking lot is dimly lit and the customer does not feel safe, the vendor can add more lights in the parking lot to make customers feel safe. Partnering with other LP associations such as Loss Prevention Research Council (LPRC) can also help a vendor stay educated on retailers’ research.

During a time when many companies are automating processes, such as self-checkout for retailers and grocers, how can security measures prevent shoplifting?

There are so many common ways for shoplifting to happen at self-checkouts—scanning a lesser item for a higher priced item, forgetting to scan an item or just keeping items in the bag, and not scanning them.

Customer service is one of the top security measures a store can take. Employees should engage with customers at self-checkout lines, ensuring that they are present and watching. The use of cameras at self-checkout is an easy way to detect if someone is shoplifting. Another deterrent is a scale to weigh items that customers are putting in the bagging area. Technology can help automate these processes and manage monitoring programs, saving time and reducing the number of loss events.

How can stores prevent retail crime using integrated security and technology?

Integrated security and technology such as facial recognition technology shows how many times a person of interest has visited a store and identifies their patterns. Partnering with local law enforcement so they can help in the process of prosecuting criminals is important. Stores will want to ensure their team is building a case that has all the information a prosecutor may need. Also, train your team on whom to contact if a repeat offender comes to their location. This can be a simple process such as an alert that goes to team members if needed.

What changes can retailers implement to improve security and loss prevention in the face of mass retail crime?

Have a security assessment done by an outside company. This will show where the weaknesses are and where to focus efforts. Retailers should have integrated security solutions in place to improve safety. The use of security devices and technology offers video surveillance to provide access control. Remote monitoring services can mitigate risk by showing a physical security presence and enhancing situational awareness.

All employees must be educated on clear protocols and feel empowered to engage with customers. If potential shoplifters feel like they are being watched, they are less likely to steal.

What training and skills do security professionals need to have?

Every team member should go through the LPQ course with the LP Foundation. It gives security professionals the foundation of what it means to be a loss prevention manager and is a benchmark that teaches loss prevention practices, core competencies, and best practices for LP professionals. The next step is taking the LPC course, which is the advanced certification for loss prevention and asset protection.

Stay Updated

Get critical information for loss prevention professionals, security and retail management delivered right to your inbox.