When we’re looking to grow a business at the store or enterprise level, we should strive to envision that entity’s place and role in an ecosystem. With stores, nearby people drive sales, crime, and loss levels. Ease of access and egress plays a role. Nearby stolen-goods fences and other built features, like laundromats, vacant buildings, c-stores, and malls, generate good and not-so-good activity.
To support our businesses, loss prevention and asset protection works to reduce problems that disrupt the business. Problem-solvers first analyze the situation. Who, what, when, where, why, and how should be defined and described as much as possible. The more we know about a problem’s dynamics, the more precise and impactful our solution set will be.
Thinking about our problem in context can also be labeled nesting. Think of how stores are nested in parking lots, lots in blocks, blocks in a neighborhood, neighborhoods in communities, and so forth. We can also examine how stores are nested in districts, regions, and divisions, or are served by different distributions centers, for example.
It is important to take this phenomenon into account since problems arise in part due to what that location is exposed to, and different locations are exposed to different people, places, and processes. This exposure explains part of the variance in problem intensity and begs differing solutions.
A key problem-solving exercise includes plotting meaningful data on a map. Seeing nesting and what a location is exposed to, what’s happening (or not happening) nearby is huge. We can not only measure differences but also see them. And this all helps us plan accordingly. Each store- or district-level LP member should develop maps. What is going on inside and around a given location? What is pushing problems our way? Why are problem people coming our way? What is going on in similar sites? Get police data and map theft markers in your store, like discarded packaging and EAS tags or wraps. What are they taking? Where are they exiting the store and parking lot? Regularly talk to surrounding LP professionals.
Problems and problematic people cluster in place and time. Most places are statistically immune (not much bad ever happens there), while others are chronic victims. The distribution of crime events rather than the quantity drives this. So we look to understand why certain places generate or attract frequent problems. Now we address risk factors at those places.
A Research and Results Community
The Loss Prevention Research Council (LPRC) membership continues to grow, with over sixty retail chains, seventy solutions organizations, and several manufacturers and industry group members, over 145 members strong. The LPRC community is an information-driven space where LP and law enforcement practitioners work side by side year-round with leading solution designers and scientists to deconstruct how theft, fraud, and violence problems arise and spread, as well as to design, test, and adjust targeted solutions.
The 2018 LPRC Impact Conference to be held October 1-3 on the University of Florida (UF) campus is also evolving and will feature a record ten thirty-minute, interactive Learning Labs this year. We’re also featuring a solution experience zone where solo- and poly-anti-crime treatments are featured in the five zones of influence. We’ll also showcase live, in-depth, internal offender interviews designed to tease out how deviant employees start and progress and what they respond to during their employment.
The brand new Mad Scientist gamification will help tie together important concepts in a fun and rewarding way. University of Florida faculty are engaging over 36 LP executives in their strategic research designed to back how top protection decision-makers can better support their multidomain enterprises as they adapt to provide customer needs and wants. UF’s Mike Scicchitano, PhD, will facilitate STRATEGY@. This exclusive program is made possible by UF, LP Magazine, the Loss Prevention Foundation, LPRC, and a generous grant from Tyco.
We hope to see you in Gainesville this fall to learn and build together with LP executives from over sixty retail and restaurant chains, seventy solution-tech companies, and multiple research scientists.
Working to Reduce Violence Together
In the next issue, I will describe the LPRC Anti-Violence Innovation Chain Summit held September 12, 2018, in Baltimore. Almost 100 professionals from multiple chains and law enforcement agencies met together to plan their joint anti-violence research and development efforts.
SIDEBAR: LPRC Research in Action
Electronics product theft continues at high rates. Traditional protective efforts that increase an offender’s perceived risk of apprehension and sanction—like EAS, CCTV, and merchandise alarms—don’t always deter theft attempts. Likewise, retailers are reluctant to restrict shopper access to products due to lower sales and satisfaction. So some companies are working to trial benefit-denial technologies that render protected items less desirable or valuable. This early-stage exploratory project was designed to collect evidence on priming mechanisms like signage to deter would-be offenders and help shoppers realize a protected asset will not function unless purchased.
The LPRC conducted a series of in-person survey interviews in the Gainesville, FL, Innovation Lab and a nearby store to understand how benefit-denial box marks placed on packaging impact offender and customer perceptions and likely responses. Additionally, feedback from twenty LP executives was polled to gather industry opinions of five potential symbol templates. The LPRC then tested the three highest of these box marks, collecting data from six active offenders (shoplifters) and 37 customers. An LPRC Research Scientist collected the data from August to September 2015. This report details survey results.
- Do active offenders notice (See It) the box mark?
- Do offenders understand the exact implications (Get It) of the box mark, as well as perceive it to be a credible threat to their personal intentions for a protected item (Fear It)?
- Do customers notice (See It) and understand the exact implications (Get It) of the box mark?
- What small changes can enhance the box mark’s effects?
- Box mark 4 is the most noticeable by both offenders and customers, by a large margin for customers.
- Box mark 4 was the strongest deterrent for offenders.
- Once noticed, box mark 1 provides the best balance of aesthetics and clarity for customers but not offenders.
- Box mark 1 was rated most favorably by twenty LP executives.
LPRC recommended either box mark 4 with the current color scheme and boarder or box mark 1 with the following enhancements: enlarged text, reduced keyhole size, and dashed boarder. Consideration should also be made to adding the word “locked” to the beginning of the message to eliminate some of the alternative interpretations we encountered.
This brief is just a small part of the entire research report. The full report is one of over 350 now located in the online LPRC Knowledge Center.