Retailers are becoming more focused on theft from the standpoint of customer and employee safety. So wouldn’t it be GREAT to find a security solution that both stops crime AND protects staff? Guess what! GPS is that solution.
In May, surveillance video from a phone store in Strongsville, Ohio, showed a group of masked gunmen storming the business, forcing workers into a back office to open a safe, and making off with its entire inventory of phones, just one in a string of violent robberies. The local paper’s headline read: “Cell phone stores becoming the new bank robbery in Northeast Ohio.” That’s the type of headline no retailer wants to see…it negatively impacts both business and brand, and may lead consumers to spend their dollars elsewhere.
As the gap between brazen store thieves and the ability to stop them widens, security concerns of retail executives have moved beyond just protecting inventory…they are looking at crime from the standpoint of customer and staff safety. And with the increased prevalence of violent retail crime, security professionals have had to reimagine duty of care, and implement new technologies to ensure that people in their stores are protected.
Of course, the first line of defense against crime is prevention…if the crime never happens, then the chance of violence is eliminated. Taking a layered approach to prevention can be effective, with display security, access control, video surveillance, and other common asset protection tools all playing an important role. But while these solutions help to “deter” or “notify,” they won’t stop the determined criminals who will commit crimes regardless of countermeasures. And, these solutions aren’t going to help law enforcement catch the criminals.
Deterrents have their place and are great tools. But some amount of crime is going to happen anyway. When it does, you want to get the criminals out of your store quickly, so staff and customers are protected. GPS does that and also links in police to handle apprehension and recovery.
In the phone store robbery mentioned above, the violent gang made off with $60K in phones—but also unknowingly took our Phone Tracker. It triggered and silently notified local law enforcement that a crime was in process. Police tracked the criminals in tandem with our 24/7 Tracking Support Center.
Using data from the device, Strongsville police pursued the suspects’ vehicle, arrested two suspects when they bailed from the car and the remaining two suspects when the tracker led them to a nearby residence. In addition to capturing the criminals, the phone store recovered all the stolen merchandise.
So what’s the lesson here? Violent criminals who threatened the staff stole a bunch of phones and left without harming anyone because they thought they got what they wanted. After they fled the store, GPS trackers gave police actionable data to conduct a safe pursuit and apprehension. And all of the stolen phones were recovered. It’s a different way of considering security solutions that go beyond just protecting inventory to also protect staff and customers.
Unfortunately, a recent study from the NRF makes it clear that retail crime is growing and criminals are becoming less fearful of getting caught, more likely to engage in grab-and-run or smash-and-grab activity, and more likely to become violent if confronted. Combine that with economic desperation and the opioid crisis and the implications for security strategy can seem harrowing.
GPS devices yield an incredible amount of data that helps law enforcement to make more arrests, more quickly, and—most important—more safely. Retailers protect staff and their brand, they improve recovery, and they gain valuable upstream intelligence. And when used in conjunction with other layers of physical security can help to facilitate more successful prosecutions leading to convictions.