Fear of crime is real, and it’s costing retailers. All retail chains strive to generate sales by stocking well-designed stores with desirable merchandise and friendly, helpful associates. But all this is for naught if shoppers perceive the site is dangerous. If they do, they won’t even visit. As mentioned in this column before, we’re working with multiple retailers in our Violent Crime Working Group to improve prevention and recovery.
We recently conducted a Houston Robbery Prevention Summit and were pleasantly surprised that over twelve retail chains and multiple federal and local law enforcement leaders and investigators energetically joined together for a day of learning and planning. This group wants to continue meeting and improving protective actions and speed of offender evidence sharing.
We’re focusing on better ways to deter violent offenders like robbers and purse snatchers before they try, as well as incapacitating high-impact offenders via faster arrest in Houston, Atlanta, Jacksonville, and Gainesville. These research efforts are grounded in situational crime prevention (SCP) theory and involve multiple sites, methods, and measurements.
We always use frameworks, and parking lot and other violent crime is no exception—there is too much at stake to just randomly do stuff. So SCP guides our actions, gives them context, and allows us to tweak our methods to dial-in effectiveness for larger-scale effectiveness measurement.
We want to affect offender decisions out in place in time if at all possible. We communicate with them in zone 5 via social and traditional media, as well as by word of mouth. We want our store to look like a no-go from a drive-by view (in other words, it looks too tough to tackle). As the
offender moves through zone 4 or parking lot and as they enter the store, the same thing applies—not here, not now. And of course at and near the actual asset point we can “message” them as well.
We realize many offenders unfortunately don’t notice, understand, or care about our deterrent efforts, so we’re working on ways to facilitate faster detainment of these chronic offenders. We will keep you apprised on the R&D implications.
Be a Leader
It is always tough to do, but always important. We need people to lead out there in order to improve LP/AP results. Technology and even process aren’t enough. Success comes from someone getting the process executed over the long-term. And we lead by being real experts for our organizations, by convincing partners to partner. We lead our own teams, and we lead our local law enforcement partners if need be.
The US Army has long worked to understand and produce high-quality leaders. Lives, and our freedom, depend on them getting it right. Army field manual 22-100 bases leadership development around the concept of “be, know, and do.” The same principles help any manager accomplish his or her goals.
Be a good leader by demonstrating sound character, decisiveness, and selfless service—even when tired and discouraged.
Know your people and how to communicate and inspire supervisors, peers, and subordinates alike; and strive for technical and tactical crime and loss control knowledge and proficiency. And of course know your organization’s business and people, the company’s objectives and strategy, and even the areas around your locations.
Do make good decisions, motivate people, operate your team to make the right things happen, and constantly improve LP processes and results with evidence-based solutions.
LPRC in Action
Retailers established the Loss Prevention Research Council (LPRC), so they drive it. And they all want the same thing. Theywant an independent entity that will help them form better LP/AP strategies and then help them rigorously develop and test solutions to improve their LP impact.
I’ve adapted the US Army’s focus to the LPRC to make sure member organizations and their individual team members benefit.
Be. Our members tend to be experienced, open-minded, and have a healthy thirst for knowledge. They want to push and to work with similar professionals all year around. To this end, the LPRC is a coalition of over forty retail chains combined with over forty solution companies collaborating monthly in eleven working groups with our science team to produce, enhance, test, discuss, and deploy improved crime and loss control tactics and technologies.
Know. Retailers also want their own AP teams, their organizational counterparts, and their solution partners to all know and use the latest protective tactics and evidence-based solutions. They don’t want to just keep trying what vendors bring them and guessing on eventual outcomes. They seek a common, tested framework and terminology. So they use the new online LPRC keyword-rich Knowledge Center collection of hundreds of reports and briefs, and they individually and collaboratively participate in and discuss real-world research and development.
Do. Most importantly, retailers strive to put their new tactics and knowledge to work reducing their risks, adverse events, and losses. They do this by participating and collaborating in the monthly action-oriented webinars; in the ever-expanding LPRC and University of Florida (UF) Innovation Lab; in their own innovation stores (StoreLabs); during working group field exercises and visits; at the annual interactive Impact Conference; and of course in rolling out and evaluating their improved efforts.
Make an Impact
You’re invited! Now in its sixteenth year, LPRC’s Impact Conference is an annual gathering where multiple new research results are discussed, the iLab is toured, the working groups break out, offenders are interviewed, and new projects are planned. We typically have over 200 AP and solution executives engaging together. These executives include pyramid heads as well as field and corporate LP/ AP leaders and investigators. The Impact experience also includes law enforcement, academics, and students working together as well as enjoying fantastic social networking at the Innovation Lab reception and at the campus venue.
Invisible Influence: The Hidden Forces That Shape Behavior by Jonah Berger is a marketing book by a marketing professor that lays out how
others and messages can influence perceptions and decisions. It is ideal for us to use as a source for editing anti-crime messages for our programs.
As always, our UF and LPRC teams are working to support you, so please let me know your thoughts and suggestions via our website at lpresearch.org, on LinkedIn, or at rhayes (at) lpresearch (dot) org.