Security Tech Helps Retailers Put Customers and Employees First

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 is the type of headline no retailer wants to see…it negatively impacts both business and brand and may signal to consumers to take 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. "Retailers are becoming more focused on theft from the standpoint of customer and employee 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 customers and employees alike are protected." said Todd Leggett, CEO of 3SI Security Systems since 2015.

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, explained Leggett, 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, the solutions don’t typically provide meaningful assistance to law enforcement in capturing criminals.

Together, let’s break the crime cycle. Creating a safe world by protecting and recovering high-value assets and apprehending criminals with innovative tracking solutions from 3SI.

But, there is a security layer that retailers can add to help impact downstream crime and build bridges with law enforcement—without putting employees in harm’s way. In the aforementioned phone store robbery, the violent gang made off with $60K in phones—but they also unknowingly took a 3SI Phone Tracker, a covert GPS tracking device. Once triggered, the device silently notified local law enforcement that a crime was in process, and police tracked the criminals in tandem with 3SI’s 24/7 Tracking Support Center.

Using data from the device, Strongsville police pursued the suspects’ vehicle. Police 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 tracker resulted in the phone store recovering of all its stolen merchandise.

GPS has become an added layer of security that aligns with the growing concern for employee safety and law enforcement partnership. "Crime occurs, thefts are going to happen, and when they do, we want the criminals to leave with the stolen property, to get out of the store and away from staff and customers so no one gets hurt" said Leggett. "Once they’ve escaped, we can provide information to police who can safely pursue and apprehend the suspects."
Tony D'Onofrio, a recognized retail industry leader, consultant, speaker, and CEO of TD Insights LLC, has long been a supporter of the technology. "As a global retail industry influencer, I have been an advocate of building strong brands through technology that both engages consumers and protects their shopping experiences. I recognized very early on the safety issues that ORC and retail theft posed to not just store associates, but customers and even law enforcement," said D'Onofrio. "GPS solutions, inside physical retail locations, serve as the perfect complement to any security package and can be a vital tool in protecting high-value assets and facilitating faster engagement with professionals [i.e., law enforcement] trained to deal with potentially violent criminals."

Retail crime continues to grow. Results from a recent study performed by the National Retail Federation indicate that today’s retail criminals are 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. When combined with economic desperation and the opioid crisis, the implications for retail, loss prevention and security strategy can seem harrowing.

GPS devices yield an incredible amount of actionable data that helps law enforcement to make more arrests, more quickly, and—even more important—more safely. Retailers protect staff, their brand, improve recovery, and gain valuable upstream intelligence. And when used in conjunction with other layers of physical security can help to facilitate more successful ORC prosecutions.

To learn about how to add GPS to your security package click here.
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