Tuesday was a day of learning at the ASIS 59th Annual Seminar and Exhibits. Attendees had plentiful choices—session topics covered the breadth of the security industry. Ahead lies reportage on just a few of the many expert presentations that occurred at McCormick Place.
Retail Loss Prevention
Retail security professionals learned about loss prevention and ways to fight organized retail theft in a Tuesday session titled “Pressing Issues in Retail Loss Prevention.” J. J. Coughlin, vice president of law enforcement services at LoJack Supply Chain Integrity, said organized retail crime (ORC) has been growing for the past few years. He pointed out that although companies may have insurance to cover the thefts, the manufacturers will still have to replace the products and the client won’t receive what they need on time, so the crimes resonate throughout the supply chain.
Coughlin serves as director of the Supply Chain-Information Sharing and Analysis Center, which collects data on cargo theft from law enforcement and various other members. Coughlin said that the places the thefts occur might change but the main takeaway is that they tend to occur when a driver has left cargo unattended, whether that is for two minutes or two days. He also told attendees that 70 percent of cargo theft happens between Friday and Monday, so companies might need to look into upgrading weekend and downtime security.
Coughlin also demonstrated hotspot mapping, which showed that Florida is a particularly vulnerable state for cargo thefts. He noted that food is usually the most frequently stolen item.
A solution that Coughlin shared was the idea of embedded covert tracking in freight. The tracker provides visibility for the shipment throughout its trip.
Kathleen Smith, vice president of loss prevention at Safeway, discussed the retail theft issue at her store. She said the company loses about $80 million a year to ORC, with baby formula being the number one item for thieves. She said a challenge for grocery stores in preventing theft is that they’re supposed to be an open shopping experience, so the measures cannot be too obtrusive. Therefore, the store looks for solutions to slow down theft. For example, Safeway uses a cart containment system right at checkout stands to prevent those who haven’t paid from being able to take carts out of the store.
Smith noted that it is often difficult to show return on investment (ROI) with certain technologies, such as video analytics, when using it for loss prevention. However, she says she’ll partner with the marketing department or another department that wants a tool for another reason that is able to demonstrate ROI, such as in figuring out the best spots in the stores for product displays. That way, loss prevention won’t have to bear the financial burden but they’ll be able to take advantage of the technology.