RESEARCH: How Retailers Actually Use a Bag Searching Policy

While some organizations maintain a bag searching policy, others merely conduct bag searches on an as-needed basis.

bag searching policy

Employee theft is a major problem for many employers in the United States, coming in at number two on the list of leading causes of inventory shrinkage (behind shoplifting/ORC), according to the 2018 National Retail Security Survey. To mitigate this problem, many retailers in the US deploy a bag searching policy at their facilities to deter employee theft and to catch perpetrators engaged in theft from the company. While some organizations maintain bag search policies, others merely conduct bag searches on an as-needed basis.

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This Loss Prevention Research Council (LPRC) report explores the proportion of retailers who conduct bag searches, facilities where the search is conducted, the main drive behind a search, and the items that are being searched. Twenty-one leading US retailers participated in this study, although three survey responses were withdrawn due to incomplete answers.

Question 1: Does your organization have an employee/associate package check policy?

Two-thirds of the retailers who participated in this study stated that their organizations have an employee package check policy, while one-third of the respondents claimed that they do not currently have such policy.

Question 2: Where do you implement employee/associate package check policy? (Check all that apply.)

Of the twelve participating retailers with an employee package check policy, two of them have the policy in all facilities, five of them have the policy in stores and distribution centers, four of them have the policy in stores only, and only one of them has the policy in distribution centers only. None of the participating retailers have a bag searching policy in their offices.

Question 3: What may be searched?

Of the twelve retailers with employee package check policy, about 42 percent of them always conduct bag searches, 33 percent of them conduct random checks, and 17 percent of them conduct bag searches only in stores with high shrinkage. All others conduct searches based on facilities.

Question 4: What triggers a search?

The primary trigger of a search is purse/backpacks/other bags, and purchases might be a trigger for some retailers.

Question 5: Please provide any additional comments you believe are important.

Read more on criminal behavior in “Offenders Adapt; So Must We,” which was originally published in 2018. This excerpt was updated January 31, 2019.

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