1. Introduction

To prevent loss is one of the primary goals of the security system of a retail store. There are various tools, equipment, applications, and strategies that are used for retail security. However, this paper adopts a simple yet innovative approach towards preventing loss in the three identified auto stores – integration. Integration is an approach that seeks to improve the effectiveness of each specific loss prevention technology by thoughtfully assimilating all into a singular-working system. Integration allows all the security system to work as a unit thus enhancing their power and streamlining their security (Greggo & Kresevich, 2016). This paper is written from a perspective of a Security Director for the three auto spare parts stores and it will present a discussion on how the various security measures presented above will be put together with the primary objective of preventing vices that contribute to losses. The discussion will cover loss prevention, applicant screening, both internal and external loss-related threats and how to counter them, internal and law enforcement investigations, fraud prevention, risk management, emergency management and safety in each of the retail stores.

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2. Applicant screening

The first and probably the most important step in improving in-store security and loss prevention is by ensuring that applicants they are who claim to be, they pass the security checks set for the job, and they meet the requirements for employment. Applicant screening will be a vital part of promoting personnel security. Applicant screening will be important for unearthing any information concealed or misrepresented by the applicant and any security concerns (Huang & Cappelli, 2010). The screening elements will include;

· Verification of identity

· Verification of the right to work in the region, the state, and the country

· Confirmation of work history and qualifications

· Check for any criminally related issues through the relevant authorities.

Applicant screening will be an important element of the human resource security; however, it won’t be a complete solution. The screening will be a continuous part of the personnel security regime for the stores. The continuous screening will be adopted because people and the attitudes they hold can change through time, or at an instance as a response to events. A genuine and honest employee can change to be perpetrators of malicious acts, as their motives and loyalties can change through the time, after recruitment (Huang & Cappelli, 2010). Continuous screening of employees will have a holistic approach that includes a security-oriented culture, monitoring for protection, and access control.

3. Loss prevention

It is the primary goal for the security director of the stores to ensure the successful protection of property. However, this goal is always frustrated by loss and theft. In the auto repair sector, losing a single part has deleterious effects of increased loss which might have the eventual effect of the inability to absorb the losses attached (Bamfield, 2012). This challenge is aggravated by cash losses and other crime-related events that are originated from both within and without. The money directed towards investigations, and measures reactive to losses, including civil processes after theft are all deleterious financially (Hayes, 2007).

It is profitable to invest in loss preventive measures. There are numerous options for a retail store to prevent loss and they include the format of the shop, adoption of e-commerce, use of catalogs, and utilization of home shopping resources which are currently gaining traction among customers as a result of the technological revolution that has continued to expand (Bamfield, 2012). Given the competitive nature of the market today, protection of goods and promotion of safe and friendly environment for customers is important for profits and competitive edge.

3.1. Shoplifting

Shoplifting accounts for over 40% of losses in the American retail sector and it continues to be a challenge for retailer owners and security managers (Finklea, 2011). Due to shoplifting, the American retail sector losses about $15 billion each year (Beck & Peacock, 2009). Shoplifting is of various types, and even though all are deleterious to the business, the most damaging are professional shoplifters, referred to as “boosters.” These are career criminals who steal goods and convert them to cash over the fence, through online auctions, street vendors, and flea markets. Boosters are a threat because they are aware of the security system of the store and are effectively armed with the tactics required to beat it (Finklea, 2011).

Various methods are used to prevent shoplifters including Electronic Application System (EAS), Closed-circuit television (CCTV), and shelf guards. However, to be more effective, each of the stores will have to adapt the various tools available for better identification of theft dynamics, to alert any shoplifting attempts on time, and to prevent false alarms. Each of the three stores will prevent loss by integration the various stand-alone alarm and monitoring systems to a better, more effective transaction-oriented information system (Finklea, 2011). Integration of these systems will be at all levels – hardware to hardware, hardware to software, and software to software. Integration will revolve around and be driven my data management.

4. Internal threats and countermeasures

4.1. Employee theft

Of all the loss related threats that a retail store faces, internal threats are probably the most insidious. Internal fraud and theft account for billions and it happens in the form of loss of supplies, inventory, and store. Internal threats are a major concern because employees – who are the perpetrators – have insider information, knowledge, and access to procedure and goods. An employee knows how and where cash is kept, passwords are used, codes to turn alarms off, and they could have combinations, duplicate keys, and the security producers and systems used in the store (Hayes & Rogers, 2003). An employee is able to weigh the risk if caught and they can successfully assess their colleagues to determine could be collaborators, those who are ignorant, and those who might expose them. They can gauge the attentiveness of managers and supervisors and know then the naïve and apathetic are in charge.

Countermeasures to employee theft will include screening of employees, creation of an honest workplace culture, motivation of good behavior through an award system, and making it clear that dishonest will attract harsh measures. In addition, each store will adopt a loss prevention system that is thorough, effectively monitored, and accurate (Hayes and Rogers, 2003). Employees will also need to know the security system is secure because any thoughts of the system being weak and insecure will provoke some to take advantage of it. Some of the measures to be used are in-store control measures, access and detection control technology, and reward system to reinforce employee honesty as well as a punitive system to prevent the dishonest behavior.

4.2. Cargo theft

Theft of good on transit is a common occurrence among retailers. It is a source of increasing losses thus it is an area of interest for loss prevention. Losses related to cargo theft in the American market account for $10-$20 billion annually (Boyd, 2007). The causes of cargo theft include collusion with drivers, loss of entire trucks through distraction by a decoy, armed hijacking, and drivers being drugged. To successfully steal cargo, there might be a group collusion that includes loaders, guards, dispatchers, and the contracted drivers who steal goods from warehouses, centers of distribution, and drop-off points for trailers. Theft can also be done on slow-moving trucks or parked trucks.

To prevent loss through cargo theft, each store will have to use new detection technology which includes radio frequency identification (RFID), Cabin CCTV system, and Global Positioning Software (GPS) (Finklea, 2011). In addition, to prevent loss of good on transit through driver collusion, the store’s drivers will only be on a need to know basis on goods being transported.

5. External threats and countermeasures

5.1. Commercial burglary and robbery

According to research (Sanders, 2015; Finklea, 2011), retail stores are four times more of being a burglary target than other commercial outlets. The reason for this is because the good are on display hence visible. In a retail store, a burglar has a clear goal and it’s easier for them to make up their mind on what they want. In addition, a burglar knows that it takes from 4 to 20 minutes for the authorities to show up after the alarm has gone off, which is adequate time for escape.

At the moment, each of the three stores has remotely monitored alarm system. However, the system is limited by numerous challenges which include false alarm, failure, or delay response. To be effective in preventing burglary and robbery related loss, by not only preventive but deterrence measures, each store will have an intelligent alarm system installed. Such systems are a deterrence system to would-be burglars for they are sure of being detected, apprehended, and punished accordingly. In addition, other systems to be used include access control to sensitive areas with restricted access.

5.2. Organized Retail Crime (ORC)

ORC is a major threat to business and accounts for between $12 and $35 billion in losses annually (Talamo et al., 2007). Criminal gangs vary in terms of sophistication and stealing methods. Some of these groups are “boosters” and fraudsters who use fraudulent methods to steal from retailers (Finklea, 2011). Even though some are simply con artists, others use violence to gain access to and steal goods. As a result and given the continued and steady growth of ORC in American cities, this is a priority in security operations. In addition, over the years, ORC has shown no signs of abating because as old gangs decimate, new ones are formed, or old ones evolve. This means retailers have to undertake proactive loss preventive measures to stop the determined offenders.

One of the most effective measures in fighting ORC is through state and federal laws, and government authorities. Nevertheless, each of the auto stores will undertake various preventive measures to avert ORC. The first is better and more intelligence collection by the retailer to understand any ORC in the area and their operations. The second is the use of in-store detectives, and lastly, better and active collaboration with law enforcement agencies to deal with any ORC related threats (Talamo et al., 2007).

6. Security systems

6.1. Detection systems

Security systems in the retail sector are rich with tools that help the personnel in the sector to minimize loss and theft. One of these is detection systems which sense, record, report and analyze break-ins and burglary to create an intelligent pattern. Detection systems include; 1) theft detection that deals with removal of products during office hours. 2) Fraud detection that is in the form of software or control procedures and deals with fraudulent returns, receipts, and internal misbehaviors (Finklea, 2011). 3) Intrusion detection that deals with unauthorized, forced, or authorized entry and responds by sending an alert. In addition, intrusion detection deals with compromised doors, windows, and motion detectors which work with the alarm system to notify the security officials of a breach.

To make the various detection tools more effective, they will be integrated with other security tools e.g. access control, video analytics, and CCTV. By connecting the detection system to video analysis system, it will be possible to recognize and potentially identify benign and suspicious activities. This will enhance better control of the alarm system and minimize or simply do away with false alarms (Hollinger and Adams, 2007). In addition, by integrating the alarm system with the access control system, loss prevention will be better managed as legitimate threats can be controlled through a single button that sets the alarm system on, notifies law enforcement agencies, and initiates a lock of the sensitive areas (Finklea, 2011).

6.2. Fraud prevention

Currently, fraud prevention in the stores is through monitoring done through electronic tags and gate systems. Other systems that are used to prevent shrinkage from both within and without are EAS tagging system. EAS functions at points of entry and exit and detects ‘live” tags that are placed on products (Hollinger and Adams, 2007). Two types of EAS tags are used; visible (soft and hard), and source-tagged soft tags. Source tags are attached to the inner side of packages as well as inside products at the manufacturing stage. On the other hand, visible tags are added by merchants once they are in the warehouse or the store. The majority of the visible tags are deactivated after they are sold, if not; they activate the alarm on exit.

To better prevent loss through fraud, each of the stores will right away begin to use GPS and RFID thus the ability to track merchandise in transit. This will be geared towards preventing loss of good and illicit goods as they are being transported from the manufacturer to the retails stores. While GPS will help to prevent cargo and supply chain fraud, RFID will be used on containers to prevent theft and replacement with counterfeits while in transit.

Return fraud is another threat to the stores’ profitability. A POS refund system will be used to screen returns and returnees. The typical POS system has a loophole in that, an employee can manually key in returns thus it can be taken advantage of through employee collusion (Hollinger and Adams, 2007). To avert this problem, automated POS will be used. This system has intelligent processes that help to flag suspicious returns and returnees. When returning good, returnees are required to use an official identification document thus, a profile is created for “bad” returnees. In addition, the system is able to instantly identify whether a person is or not an abusive returnee.

6.3. Risk management

Risk management in the security department will rely more on the employees. Store employees will be trained accordingly on the risks that ace the business and how to manage them. For instance, for a store in an ORC prone area, security guards will be well trained on how to identify and deal with gang members who might be a threat to the store. In addition, all employees must be involved in the risk mitigation efforts, from being alert, monitoring, to identification and debit card verification during purchase (Hopkin, 2017).

Effective boon and record keeping is the other risk management strategy to be adopted by the stores. In case of a liability claim, each store will have to avail the relevant records as evidence. For example, effective records on workplace safety will be used in case an employee sues for injuries incurred in the workplace.

Cyber-attack is an increasing threat in today’s digital world. The IT experts for each store will be required to keep their systems up-to-date through routine evaluation of software to provide any needed patches (Hopkin, 2017). In addition, a two-factor login option will be required and any abnormalities recorded and addressed right away.

7. Internal investigations

In case of any low-level security breaches, internal investigations will be used to unearth the truth. In case of insider-threats which include allegations that an employee has violated any of the set rules and regulations, internal investigations will be carried out. Internal investigations will be used when;

· A fraud is reported

· Theft of assets has occurred

· There is unauthorized access, manipulation, and/sell of data

· Sexual harassment threats or inappropriate behavior including communication.

An internal investigation will include the collection and examination of available evidence, interview of the involved and digital forensics of the available data. An internal investigation will necessitate the involvement of the relevant top management, but this will be limited to those considered to be key to the particular case being handled (Gottschalk, 2018). To ensure internal investigations are effective and do not affect the work environment of the respective store, investigations will be done without witness intimidation, not even to the suspected wrongdoer. In case the suspect is a manager who might use his/her position to intimidate lower staff witnesses, then removing the suspects from the workplace through paid suspicion will be considered.

To ensure the continuity of operations is not affected, which affects profitability, internal investigation will involve the least number of people. Only those who are directly involved will be involved as well as those who have a right to know, for example, the human resource director (Gottschalk, 2018). Involving only the necessary enhances confidentiality thus promoting successful and truthful conclusions. Even if an employee has to be involved e.g. as an interviewee, they do not have to know who is being investigated. Other strategies will have to be sued to ascertain, calm, and explain to the employee that they are not in any trouble whatsoever. In case of crimes of a criminal nature, then law enforcement agencies will be invited.

7.1. Law enforcement investigations

Law enforcement authorities will be invited to take over from internal investigations in the event of criminal events that include robbery with violence, murder, exploitation of a minor, etc and are required by law to be addressed by the law enforcement agencies. In such law enforcement investigation, state or federal agent will take over the investigation and internal security will be required to corporate fully and as required to unearth the unknown (Brandl, 2018). To bring in law enforcement investigators, it is required that there be a Corpus Delicti, with is known as the body of a crime (Brandl, 2018). To determine the body of a crime, the issue to consider was whether there is evidence reasonable enough to warrant a crime. If the event only points to an occurrence that cannot be adequately explained, then internal investigation will be enough, however, if additional evidence is found that warrants a crime, then law enforcement should be invited.

Once the decision has been made to invite law enforcement, the affected store will be required to corporate fully with the police investigations. This will involve preservation of the crime scene and not altering anything related to the crime.

In case of independent law enforcement investigation into the store in the event of accusations of wrongdoing, the deputy security director in each of the three stores will be required to allow the law enforcement officer, only after a legal search warrant has been presented (Brandl, 2018).

8. Emergency management and safety in the workplace

The first requirement towards ensuring workplace safety and successful management of emergencies is having all employees adhere to the set workplace safety requirements. In addition to the safety requirements, it is important that any employee who is not sure of how to carry out a given task they should ask for advice on the same. Serious and fatal injuries in the workplace have been attributed to use of incorrect procedures when perfuming an assignment or not observing the safety requirements set out (Scholl, Okun and Schulte, 2017). In addition, the right tool is to be used for the right task, as this not only promotes safety but also minimizes wear and tear.

In the event of an emergency, protective actions for life safety include; evacuation, sheltering, shelter-in-place, and lockdown. The adopted protective action shall be determined by the security officer in charge of the store and communicated by the alarm system. In addition, employees are advised to take note of any threat and respond accordingly (Scholl et al., 2017). In the event of a hazard in the store e.g. fire, employees will be required to evaluate to a fire-assembly location. In case it is a bomb threat, employees are to evacuate to a safety zone and allow the relevant authorities tackle the threat. In the event of a tornado, then employees will be required to move to the strongest part of the building e.g. the basement, and away from glass exterior surfaces. In the vent of gunfire, employees will be protected through lockdown.

9. Conclusion

Each of the three retail stores will invest in more capable loss prevention strategies. As the Security Director, the primary goal is to identify and prevent the various possible sources of loss while at the same time maximizing on the return on investment for the various security technologies. To achieve both loss prevention and ROI, it is proposed that the various security systems should be integrated to enhance the capabilities of the system as a singularly working unit. Successful prevention of loss will be a company-wide undertaking that will incorporate deterrence, detection, and documentation. By integrating the security system and operating it as a singularly working reporting tool, then it will be able to expose the potential risk areas and manage them seamlessly through a data-managed strategy.



10. References

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Hollinger, R.C. and Adams, A. (2007). 2006 National Retail Security Survey. Gainesville, FL: University of Florida.

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Scholl, J. C., Okun, A., & Schulte, P. A. (2017). Workplace safety and health information dissemination, sources, and needs among trade associations and labor organizations.

Talamo, J., Kay, P., McAlister, K., & Hajdu, J. (2007). Organized retail crime: Executing the ORC strategy. Loss Prevention: The Magazine for LP Professionals, 7(1).