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Stop Basing Your Loss Prevention Procedures on Sticky Myths

“Wait, I’m thinking about this all wrong.”

Even the most careful and logical among us catch ourselves on occasion. We thought something was true, but we learn that it wasn’t. Further, we realize that our thought process had been illogical.

In some rare instances, that realization is fleeting, and we end up reverting back to what’s familiar and comfortable.

- Digital Partner -

Some habits, some beliefs, and some trains of thought regarding loss prevention procedures we choose to follow, die hard.

Take a common example. Most of us are aware that science has debunked the myth that “lightning can’t strike twice in the same place.” There are hundreds of recorded incidences proving that it can, and has. In fact, it directly defies logic, not to mention defeats the purpose of lightning rods, to think that lightning won’t choose the highest and most conductive target over and over again.

It’s not just untrue, it’s illogical, and we know it. Yet that truth hasn’t really stuck with us as well as the myth has.

This happens for three reasons: The Myth Came Sooner. The Myth Sounds Right. The Myth is Simpler.

The “First Thing” is Sticky: The first way that we’re able to conceptualize something in the world around us becomes our default, whether it’s true or not. Much of the first explanations presented to us were correct, like learning about light refracting to form a rainbow in grade school.

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Especially if it Sounds Right: Some explanations we heard first, like the stork explanation for where babies come from, are simple enough but start to attract attention as we grow our knowledge database. If it starts to sound wrong, we become willing to allocate the cognitive resources necessary to attend to it and seek to replace it with a new conceptualization. But without those red flags, myths tend to stick around. Even when you’ve heard they aren’t true.

Simple is Also Sticky: Simpler can mean more parsimonious overall, or a it could mean a better fit into the rest of your worldview. It’s simpler to think that the cold weather causes us to fall ill (it doesn’t) than it is to conceptualize the seasonal lifecycles of viruses and the complex epidemiology of bacteria and the spread of disease.

5 Myths That Still Inform Many Ill-Advised Loss Prevention Procedures

Myth 1: Thinking a Strategy Works or Doesn’t Work Based on Anecdotal Evidence
If someone wore a seatbelt but was still injured in a car accident, we don’t say “seatbelts don’t work!” We know better, and yet all of us hold on to a few lurking beliefs that are predicated on a single event or a funny story. Stop and ask yourself why. Why do you think EAS is ineffective? Is it because you’ve looked at the overall statistics, or because of a small handful of events?

Myth 2: An All or Nothing Mentality with Solutions
If it can’t stop everyone, it can’t stop anyone. If I can’t use it to protect everything, it’s not worth anything. All LP solutions can be defeated. Every single one. Most in multiple ways. The question is, how far can a given technology move the needle? That’s a function of both how many categories it can protect, and how well it protects them. How does that compare to your current state?

- Digital Partner -

Myth 3: My Current Solution Stopped 0% of the Thefts That Happened
It’s easy to watch endless hours of video of offenders walking right past your solution. It’s much more difficult to quantify and focus on who it successfully stopped. The consequences of removing a solution are just as important as the consequences of introducing a new one. Your loss prevention procedures should require that both are studied with the same rigor.

Myth 4: Opportunity Starts at the Door
An offender doesn’t pop in to existence when they walk through your door. They walked through your parking lot, they live in a community that’s likely nearby, and you’ve been touching their lives for as long as you’ve been in business. Think about it: those friendly commercials your company airs on TV. That news story saying your company is cutting 1,200 employees. Their friend who works for you complaining about how they’re treated. All of these are opportunities to affect the offender’s perception of whether you are a suitable target for them.

Myth 5: Offenders are Stupid and Irrational
An irrational decision is not always indicative of an irrational decision process, or of stupidity. Remember when you had that dessert you probably shouldn’t have? Looking back, that was an irrational decision. That doesn’t mean you’re an irrational person. Instead, you had competing goals: Being Healthy vs Enjoying the Moment. The second won out. Your decision process was still a rational and intelligent one, and is still one that can be studied and understood. If you understand a behavior, you can affect that behavior.

To follow the 60 LP research projects that are underway from the LPRC in 2018 and to learn more about key theories, visit

This post was originally published in 2018 and was updated February 19, 2019. 

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