Canadian Security Magazine

Focus On Retail Security: making crime unprofitable

Neil Sutton   

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Retail crime is often perceived as a low-risk, high-profit venture, resulting in slap-on-the-wrist penalties, assuming you’re even caught and charged.

But retail security professionals are working hard to change not only the image, but the reality of crime in stores and its outcomes. By working with fellow retailers to share information about possible criminal activities, and developing closer relationships with law enforcement, the tide is turning, according to information shared at Focus On Retail Security, a one-day seminar event held on June 10.

Matt Robertson, manager, corporate inventory and investigations, at Sears Canada, was the opening speaker at Focus On Retail Security. The event was well-attended by retail security professionals who came to hear speakers like Robertson share their knowledge and experience.

Robertson noted that retail crime is costing Canadian retailers almost $5 billion a year. “It’s very, very profitable for [criminals]. That’s something we need to change,” he said.

But there are indications that change is taking place. Sears is reducing crime in its stores through a combination of CCTV, deep analysis of its retail data and programs like BOLO (Be on the Lookout), which is designed to make employees more vigilant and establish a means to share information quickly between stores.

The company has also seen a reduction in fraud cases since its rules were tightened on no bill return transactions and by educating workers on how this type of fraud is perpetrated.


Focus On attendees also heard from a panel of experts on how fraud in the online world has exploded and what can be done to help stem the tide. Robertson returned for the “Retail Crime Online” panel and was joined by Jodi Gerus from Staples Canada, Stacy Hewitt-Bignall from Canada Post and Kevvie Fowler from KPMG. Panelists provided information on combatting this type of crime, managing deliveries to spot possibly fraudulent online transactions, and applying more sophisticated analytics to not only catch perpetrators but put stronger measures in place to prevent them from happening.

Attendees also participated in a group exercise — each of four groups was presented with a scenario (an active shooter threat, a tampering scandal, a data breach and protest activity) and asked to work through outcomes together and arrive at solutions.

The day closed with a seminar on restorative justice provided by Mark Yantzi from the Correctional Service of Canada. Yantzi, who has been involved with the movement for more than 40 years, presented an alternate form of conflict resolution — one that focused on positive outcomes

The Focus On Series will return Sept. 24 with Focus On Hospitality Security, with educational and networking opportunities for security professionals working in hotel, gaming and event venues.

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