Op-Ed

Still Think Apprehending Shoplifters is a Good Idea?  

April 20, 2018: By David E. George, CFE, CFI, Managing Partner, Calibration Group, LLC.

A story with an all-too-familiar ring. Another death occurred during the apprehension of a shoplifter. In the most recent case, the victim was an alleged shoplifter being apprehended by supermarket employees in Brooklyn, NY. It seems like just a few months ago we read about another death. Then another. And yet…another. In fact, 2017 was a year fraught with fatalities during store employees’ attempts to apprehend shoplifters:

  • A shoplifter was tackled by a store employee, then bled to death from lacerations caused by landing on the glass bottles he was attempting to steal.

  • A store owner was stabbed to death while attempting to apprehend a female shoplifter.

  • A store owner was killed trying to block the exit while two thieves attempted to steal TVs.

  • A Loss Prevention employee charged with murder after chasing, then allegedly shooting and killing a shoplifter.

  • Shoplifter dies after struggle with store employees.

  • A Loss Prevention employee was stabbed to death by a shoplifter.

The most frightening thing about the list above is that it is not all-inclusive. Not only does this list exclude the many violent altercations ending with serious injuries to employees, customers, or shoplifters, but it also excludes the many individuals injured or killed during Police chases after-the-fact.

As a retail Loss Prevention/Asset Protection community, we once again find ourselves in a horrible dilemma: How do we prevent shoplifting while simultaneously protecting our coworkers, customers, and, yes, shoplifters, from injuries and fatalities? A common belief is that if retailers implement a “No Apprehension” policy, then shoplifting will increase. But is this true? In Calibration Group’s most recent whitepaper entitled, Violence in Loss Prevention: Dissecting Shoplifter Apprehensions, this very question is addressed.

The day has come in which the retail Loss Prevention/Asset Protection community must come together and answer the question, “When is enough, enough?”

David E. George, CFE, CFI, is managing partner of Calibration Group, LLC. Previously, David served as vice president over Asset Protection for Dollar General Stores, a Fortune 100 company with more than 13,000 stores in 44 states. While serving Dollar General, David was responsible for the Asset Protection field team, the Asset Protection corporate team, the Shrink Improvement team, and the Shrink Analytics team.  David also worked in tandem with Dollar General’s Inventory Management team to improve stock-on-hand while simultaneously reducing stockroom inventory.

Prior to Dollar General, David held the vice president of Asset Protection position with Harris Teeter Supermarkets, Inc., a Fortune 500 company based in Matthews, NC. He served Harris Teeter for more than 14 years, and has had previous loss prevention leadership roles with Kmart Supercenters.

For more information about Calibration Group, visit www.calibrationgroup.com.

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