Opinion

Herzog: Retail business owners can improve security, communication

Posted 8/8/22

The security of your customers, employees and property should always be a top priority for East Valley retail store owners. Strong security can prevent shoplifting, create efficient communication and …

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Opinion

Herzog: Retail business owners can improve security, communication

Posted

The security of your customers, employees and property should always be a top priority for East Valley retail store owners. Strong security can prevent shoplifting, create efficient communication and create a safe experience for customers to shop in.

Setting up a good security plan can be a challenge if you don’t have the proper experts around you. As a security expert in the East Valley for over 20 years I have helped businesses here create security plans that keep staff safe, customers safe, and property secure. Here are a few tips to help East Valley retail shops step up their security game.

Find and keep the right team

A lack of security guards is an all too common problem at small to midsized retailers. Many of them will have one or no security guards watching the store. A lack of security is a mistake. You need security personnel to act as a deterrent against shoplifting. A security guard should be watching the front entrance of your property at the very least. Even a small retail space should have at least one security guard on duty each shift.

Larger retail spaces should have multiple guards on duty each shift. Each one should be strategically placed in different areas of the store. Most guards should be in plain clothes blending in to easily find shoplifters while also not making the customers feel like the shop is full of security. Front entrance security should always be in uniform to remind people not to steal something and try to walk out the front door.

A uniformed security guard is more important than a plain clothes one. So if your space is on a constricted budget hire the uniformed guard first. It is more important to have a guard watching the main exit and entrance of your store than catching shoplifters on the floor.

If you are on a tight budget I would recommend you hire a uniformed security guard to watch the entrance of your shop. At the end of the day it is more important to have a someone in uniform watching the main exit point of your store over security in plain clothes trying to catch people in the act of shoplifting. Retail security’s main job is to serve as a deterrent, not law enforcement.

Know how to engage

The safety of your customers and team is always the most important part of any security plan. A good security plan means your security guards know how to deal with shoplifters and aggressive people in a way that puts human safety above property. Retail security guards are almost always unarmed and their main job is to observe and report theft to law enforcement.

They should let a shoplifter know they saw them steal something and ask them to put it back. They should verbally engage in a firm but nonaggressive manner. If they refuse then security should contact law enforcement. Unarmed security must never physically engage with an individual committing a crime. An unarmed guard has no means to defend themselves. Physical escalation will increase the likelihood of you staff, security, and customers getting hurt, especially if the perpetrator is armed.

If security catches a shoplifter and they refuse to return the stolen product then it is better to just call the police. Don’t put people at risk for a product that can potentially be returned by law enforcement.

Strategically install modern security cameras

Security camera placement is one of the best tools a retailer has to effectively identify shoplifters and provide proof of a crime to law enforcement. Security cameras will most likely be the only form of physical evidence you can provide. That is why is it imperative to have the right number of security cameras and have placement strategy for them.

Security cameras should be installed at every entrance, every exit, in aisles, on the sales floor, cash register, loading dock and parking lot. You should place security cameras in spots that make it difficult for a person or employee to steal from your store. You should have a trusted employee or security guard watching the security monitors.

Jason Fischbeck, owner of smart automation installation company Automated Environments in Mesa, said retail shop owners have a couple of different options to choose from when it comes to security cameras.

“East Valley retail owners can either go with digital or analog security cameras and both are good options,” Fischbeck said. “Personally I would install digital cameras since you can store old footage to the cloud and retail shops tend to need a lot of video storage.”

Fischbeck recommended analog cameras if you are looking for a more cost-effective option.

Employees and security should have two-way radios

All retail security and employees should be equipped with two-way radios. They are the most effective tool for mass communication during an emergency because you only have to push a button to communicate.

Stewart McClintic is the owner of HQ98.com, a two-way radio wholesaler in the Valley. He said it is better to use two-way radios in an emergency situation as opposed to communicating on a PA system.

“Using a PA system to deal with a situation can make the customers feel uncomfortable. They don’t need to hear that someone is trying to steal from the store,” McClintic said. “You want to be discrete when these things happen so it is best to use a two-way radio. You can use private channels and ear pieces so no one has to hear your conversation.”

In short, you really don’t want someone yelling “shoplifter in aisle four” over a loud speaker.

McClintic said retailers can use digital or analog radios but they should always have at least two channels of communication. Analog radios cost less and have less delay time between communication. Digital radios are better for establishing private channels. Have every member use an ear piece so your team can have private and hands free conversations.

Implementing the right security team and security plan is a vitally important step for your retail space. The right security can keep staff and customers safe from harm as well as deter the theft of your property. Assemble the right team, create a good plan, and get the right equipment and your retail shop will be safe and secure.

About the author

Bill Herzog is the CEO of Lionheart Security Services in Tempe. He is an expert in private business security and has over 25 years of law enforcement experience.

opinion, letters, Lionheart Security Services