By David Castlegrant

Many years ago, I attended a retail store loss prevention training conference in Lansing, MI. One of the speakers at this conference said something that has stuck with me for almost 30 years. The presenter was a retired police detective turned LP manager for a large Midwest retail department store chain. He talked about the golden rule of loss prevention as it applied to internal theft, which stated that of 100% of a store’s employees: 5% would NEVER steal because of their moral, religious, or personal standards would not allow them; and 5% would ALWAYS steal regardless of what loss prevention measures were in place because they just got a thrill out of the act. He went on to say that the challenge for management was the remaining 90% who could go either way depending upon (1) need and/or (2) opportunity.

The focus of all loss prevention education and training are for these 90%, and it is not a bad idea to start your loss prevention training with this observation.

Loss prevention training does not need to be complicated, but does need to be communicated. The business owner or manager must prepare the content that will go into loss prevention, or any training. There are many free sources of information that can be found online as well at local police departments, or your business insurance agent.

Some simple questions that could be geared to topics for training content could include:

• Is there a procedure in place when there is suspicion that an employee may be stealing?
• Do management and staff know what factors can lead to internal theft?
• Does all staff enter and exit through the front entrance?
• Does all staff leave coats and purses in a locker room or designated employee area?
• Are glass showcases locked when they are unattended?
• Is the cash register locked and secure?
• Are procedures in place to investigate when empty cartons are discovered?
• Are management and staff using the proper procedure for making purchases from the store?
• Are visitors (salesmen, trades people, etc.) entering and exiting through the front entrance only?

Management should conduct a simple loss prevention audit at least monthly to identify potential conditions that could lead to internal theft and initiate corrective actions. These audits can be used as training opportunities and should be shared with staff. The more that management is aware the more the staff will also be aware. Loss prevention is everyone’s responsibility and requires everyone to be alert at all times.

Despite how small a company might be there should be a process for investigating a known loss. Management is responsible to study these incidents and note any patterns. Involving the local police may sometimes be required and any information that can be shared can help their investigation.

David Castlegrant has extensive work experience as an executive retail operations manager, university professor and business consultant. Over 200 for profit, non-profit and higher education organizations have been served since the establishment of David Castlegrant & Associates in 1992.