Sponsored by NASP
An interview with Paul Jones, LPC, (shown) director of asset protection and risk management for CKE Restaurants Holding and NASP advisory committee member.
When did you first start working with the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention (NASP)?
I first started working with NASP 22 years ago at Mervyn’s with Frank Johns. We collaborated with NASP to launch the Youth Educational Shoplifting (Y.E.S.) program in Los Angeles.
Why did you join the NASP advisory committee?
I joined the NASP advisory committee because I really feel the current criminal justice (CJ) system as it relates to fixing the behavior of shoplifting is ineffective and does not help the offenders enough or help the retailers.
I thought the mission of NASP, which has been unwavering in trying to help the offenders, the communities, and the retailers was a great mission to be part of. I wanted to work with people whose mission I believe in. The NASP team is tried and true. I believe in them. I believe in the cause. And I believe it is needed more today than ever before.
What are your thoughts about the need for NASP today?
Today, more than ever, retailers need solutions to address the ever-growing problem of shoplifting and theft. The CJ system has not been effective in solving this. We have lost tools like restorative justice, and retailers do not have the same staffing levels that they had twenty years ago. They do not have the same amount of money and bandwidth to put into people who get apprehended and then keep re-offending because they were never educated about the problem and why they shouldn’t steal.
Retailers and the CJ system are both stretched, and I do not see it getting better any time soon. NASP is essentially an untapped resource that has been working quietly behind the scenes for 30 years. The time is right for retailers and loss prevention organizations to tap more fully into this resource.
What specific value can NASP bring to the retail industry?
The NASP team has been working with retailers for 22 years. They understand the retail problem and understand retailers. They also understand the CJ system. What we need today is a team with the experience to bring the two together. I think that is the expertise they have, and 2019 marks their thirtieth year as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in this field.
Additionally, as a parent, you see children who get themselves into trouble, and you wish retailers had a solution at that point in time that would have educated them at a younger age so they wouldn’t have made as many mistakes as they are making.
I think that is what retailers have missed. People who go through a NASP solution only re-offend 3 percent of the time. Compare that to those who go through the CJ system without any education, they re-offend somewhere closer to 30 or 40 percent. The current system clearly isn’t working. I believe that private solutions offered by people who truly have the expertise and proven capability are where retailers need to be focused.
What would you tell loss prevention and retail executives about working with NASP?
NASP has the unique ability to understand the retailer’s dilemma. They understand the offenders because they have the richest database of information on offenders who shoplift in the world. Additionally, they are entrenched in the criminal justice system working with the very same training program they are offering retailers. This is not new. This has been around and been tested and implemented in communities for a very long time. It is a proven program that works and is effective.
NASP is helping the offender and thereby helping the retailer because they are educating an offender so they won’t re-offend, which means that retailers don’t have to repeatedly catch them. They are helping the community because they are saving them the burden on the criminal justice system and law enforcement.
NASP’s mission can even go deeper into the school system and communities through boy’s and girl’s clubs where they are educating young people and helping them to learn before they offend. I encourage retailers to really think about how they can utilize NASP expertise to help them in their communities. I know they have the blueprints for the “Honest to Goodness Program” aimed at schoolkids in grades K-12.
Do you think retailers should add NASP education to their tool chest? How is it different from locks and security cameras? Have those solutions helped the problem?
You know, security solutions really have not helped the problem. If you look at the University of Florida studies from Dr. Richard Hollinger, the problem has been about flat for the last five years. Where security technology advances have probably helped the problem is helping retailers to be better equipped in dealing with organized retail crime (ORC) and addressing internal theft and fraud. That is where I see the technology having helped. But when discussing the average offender shoplifting, I do not think that technology has helped prevent much except that you might catch a few more of them because of it.
If you look at the retail landscape today, you have less associates in the store and that has been trickling down over the last 10 years or so. A typical retailer likely has 40 percent fewer associates on the floor today than they did 10 years ago. That is 40 percent fewer physical deterrents. Shrink levels are at the highest they have been. There are just less people combating it today.
What does a retailer stand to gain from working with NASP?
In speaking to my colleagues and VPs of loss prevention, there are a few things that are perfectly clear that are all things NASP can fill the gap on:
- They are concerned with the criminal justice system and retailers’ lack of ability to help offenders.
- They are working with tighter budgets than ever, before so the solutions that they use need to be effective.
- Loss prevention is acutely aware of the need to work with the community. This is a community solution. If you are helping a child who shoplifts, you are going to help that family, and that family will have loyalty to you as a retailer.
- In addition, LP is also keenly aware of the need to increase sales, reduce the amount of time associates need to spend in court, and increase the bottom line while reducing shrink.
All of these things are supported by NASP solutions that will help retailers achieve success. It is a win-win for everyone.
What do you think sets NASP apart from other LP solution providers?
The NASP team is the ONLY team that has 30 years of experience in working with retailers, criminal justice, communities, and offenders. They not only can construct and execute the right program in each community, they have proven they can sustain their efforts long term. And, their programs are all self-supporting and funded by offender’s tuition fees.
They have strong ties to our community, they consistently participate in retail community events like RILA, NRF, and LPRC. They have a large database that I am sure will be a great help as the LPRC works with them to understand offender behavior, which is valuable and helps our entire industry. NASP is committed to helping our industry. They are not a “vendor.” They are not here to make a profit from our industry, but to help us.
As an executive of loss prevention or asset protection, you should schedule some time to sit down and have a conversation with NASP to learn about all the solutions they can provide. If they do not have a solution that fits your needs today, they will work with you to create one that meets your objectives. For instance, if you have six cities where you are having a problem with teen shoplifting and wanted a program in high schools, NASP can create it. Or what about creating a retail grant program? Many communities have disadvantaged, addicted, and mentally ill people who are re-offending now because they are not getting education through criminal justice.
NASP offers a voice for the retail industry. They can speak as experts on the problem related to community resources or lack thereof in dealing with shoplifting. All because of their 30 years of experience. You can find more information about NASP programs at shopliftingprevention.org, or by contacting Barbara Staib at bcstaib [at] shopliftingprevention.org or 631-546-7894.