Petty thieves can be a problem, but they can usually be managed with a capable loss prevention team. However, when the criminals get more sophisticated, a special organized retail crime training program may be required before your team can meet the challenge.
In 2007, Limited Brands put forth a comprehensive training concept that encompassed the five “ORC Pillars of Strength.” A thorough mastery of each pillar ensures that a team of loss prevention professionals is capable of identifying and apprehending professional criminals. The pillars are as follows:
Civil Liabilities. ORC associates must know how to properly observe a theft, and understand the five-step principle.
Legal. The whole team must be well versed in the entire criminal justice process, from arrest to arraignment and everything in between. The ability to work with law enforcement officers (and speak their language) is crucial. Don’t forget to exercise your right as a victim when criminals hit your store.
Investigative. Team members must review principles of investigation, including how to conduct surveillance in a mall vs. surveillance online. It may be helpful to work with consultants who have past experience with federal agencies (FBI, CIA, etc.). Safety should always be the first lesson.
Technology. Does your team have the right equipment to execute the ORC strategy? Your organization needs to invest in the appropriate technology that will help accomplish your goals. Covert digital cameras, GPS devices, and surveillance vehicles may prove useful.
Execution. Working together flawlessly will get the job done. Position the team so that everyone knows the order of operations and who is reporting to whom in any given situation.
An ORC investigative strategy might begin in-store, with your associates, who can be trained and coached to provide an amazing customer experience. “Prevention through service” is the first step in deterring thieves.
At the same time, the loss prevention staff must ramp up surveillance and intelligence-gathering activities, since professional theft teams are still able to circumvent the “prevention through service” strategy when they work together. Strategic placement in the areas with the greatest amount of organized retail crime is paramount. Managers should review crime data and allocate resources to the areas that show the most activity.
The ultimate goal of the increased surveillance is to catch organized retail crime groups in the act, identify their vehicles, and report their activity to law enforcement partners. When criminals leave the shopping area in their identified vehicle, they will then be placed under arrest. Slapping someone with this type of criminal charge is more meaningful and will likely result in a tougher sentence than stopping them in store for shoplifting.
This article was adapted from “Organized Retail Crime: Executing the ORC Strategy“, by John Talamo.