The 10th Annual – and recently rebranded – New England Loss Prevention Expo was held Thursday, September 15, 2016 at the DCU Center in Worcester, MA. About three hundred people in total were in attendance and the agenda was packed full with great information and practical advice for a loss prevention and protection person.
Throughout the day, a video montage played over three big screens in the general session room and the vendor hall showing action shots from the previous 9 conferences. Some of the people depicted have moved to new companies or retired or have run for higher office. It was nice to see the progression of the people and the conference over the years.
The conference was planned by the Retailers Association of MA Loss Prevention Committee, which includes Kevin Plante, LPC, Chairman, Brendan Fitzgerald, Jason Adams, Matt Taylor, LPC, Allan Peterson and outgoing member Shannon Lenahan. RAM leadership and co-planners were Jon Hurst, President of RAM, Ryan Kearney, General Counsel of RAM and Andi Shea, Membership Director of RAM and head planner / negotiator / executer for the conference. Hosts for the conference were the trade associations for the New England States and the conference was generously sponsored by Wegmans, Rite Aid, BJ’s Wholesale Club, Staples and the National Retail Federation.
Kevin Plante began the day with a “selfie from the stage” and then moved on to discuss some of the changes over the years surrounding LP and Law Enforcement partnerships and the understanding of ORC in order to pass legislation in Massachusetts. He also discussed the need to diversify the conference to include all areas of loss prevention concern in order to offer more to the attendees of the annual conference. He then ended his opening by introducing – for the 10th time – Joe LaRocca as the opening speaker.
Joe LaRocca, Founder of Retail Partners talked to an attentive crowd about retail trends and hot LP issues. Among the many points of discussion were de-criminalization of shoplifting trends in the US and how ORC cases are increasing becoming more violent. Additionally – and as Joe often does – he talked about how technology is phenomenal for retailers, retail customers and retail loss prevention but it comes with some risks that we all need to be aware of and thinking about.
After a short break in which attendees enjoyed some refreshments, the group then was able to spend an hour with our solutions providers or attend one of four concurrent breakout sessions going on in the break out rooms. All were very well attended given the quality of the subject and the speakers. The breakout sessions consisted of:
- Case Study –A close up investigative view of how Price Chopper Supermarket’s Asset Protection team uncovered a credit card fraud scheme in excess of $400,000. The investigation lead to the arrest of three suspects who were convicted and sentenced to federal prison. The speakers were Scott Ziter, Donna Imfeld and Mike Gulli from Golub Corporation / Price Chopper.
- GPS Tracking in Retail – BlueTracs is a solution that uses GPS tracking technology to combat Organized Retail Crime. Attendees learned how this could work for their organization. Speakers were Tim Hickey and Gary Berra.
- Analytic Approaches to Identifying the Next Gen Booster – This presentation focused on a new analytic approach under construction that attempts to better leverage the various streams of ORC-related information against existing criminal data. Specific attention was given to areas of potential cooperation between local crime analysis and loss prevention. Finally, recent efforts undertaken by the Boston Regional Intelligence Center to address Retail Theft in the metro Boston area were highlighted.
- The Improvised Explosive Threat: Commonly Available Precursor Chemicals – This presentation focused on explosives that can be manufactured with common chemicals that can be purchased at a variety of retailers. Several case studies were discussed. The speaker was Benjamin Hicks of the FBI.
Following the vendor visits and breakout sessions, participants listened intently to Walter Palmer of PCG Solutions talk about global traveler safety and security. With Walter’s vast travel experience and his credentials as a loss prevention and protection professional, he was able to convey plenty of scenarios to think about when either traveling personally, professionally or if your job involves protection of executives. This presentation covered ideas on preparing for robbery, illness and kidnap / extortion attempts abroad and provided resources attendees could contact as they prepare to travel or protect a traveler.
After a delectable lunch and more solution provider face time, conference goers were introduced to Keynote speaker Edward Minyard, President of ResponseForce1. Ed talked about disaster preparedness, response and recovery and discussed it from a practitioner’s perspective having been at the center of many recent disasters such as Katrina and the Haiti earthquake. Ed talked about the importance of retailers in the recovery effort of a community and therefore it was our responsibility to ensure our organizations were able to recover quickly. There were many people scrambling to grab a copy of Ed’s book “After Disaster – An Insiders’ Perspective from the Heart of Chaos” and to get his contact information because of some potential “organizational complacency” that may have been felt surrounding how their company prepares.
After some additional time with the solutions providers looking over new technology and offerings, the afternoon session was introduced. Mark Solomon from the Greenwich, CT police department – who is working on a US Secret Service detail currently surrounding identification and investigation of skimming fraud – gave conference attendees a view into the world of skimming and how easy it is to skim retail devices and ATM’s but how we can put some basic steps in place to safeguard our companies and our customers. Mark’s expertise on the subject, combined with his delivery of the material made the session truly memorable.
The awards portion of the conference was then put on by RAM General Counsel Ryan Kearney. Award winners were:
Loss Prevention Partner of the Year – Chris Semple, Asset Protection Investigator, Saks Off 5th.
Law Enforcement Partner of the Year – Anthony Stevens, Regional Criminal Intelligence Analyst, Boston Regional Intelligence Center (now with Attleboro, MA Police).
Loss Prevention Case of the Year – Stefanie Mangiante, ORC East Manager – CVS and Gary Weisbecker, ORC East Manager – Walgreens
Our closing session was a view into the how future technology is available today. Kevin McMenimen, LPC, COO of Loss Prevention Magazine and LPM Media Group, along with panelists Jack Ives from Cyber Extruder and Yaacov Apelbaum from XRvision talked about different biometric technologies and gave very interesting detail and examples regarding facial recognition and voice biometrics (not to be confused with speech recognition). The team also had some really cool technology that participants saw throughout the day and were able to see the biometric based solutions in action.
Participants commented on how it was the best conference yet and that they looked forward to coming next year!