A Retail Loss Prevention Investigator is responsible for protecting the assets of a store. Usually stores that employ Loss Prevention are large companies such as Macy's, Sear's, JC Penney and Wal-Mart.
The investigator not only watches for and apprehends shoplifters, but also watches employees of the company and runs reports to look for dishonesty.
The direct responsibility of this job is to make sure the merchandise and the money stays in the store.
Loss prevention maintains surveillance on store activity, using cameras such as CCTV (closed circuit television). The investigator monitors in-store traffic, along with actions of employees that may be under investigation.
Many stores have their cameras in domes on the ceiling, which loss prevention controls with a touch tracker. From the camera room, investigators are able to spin the cameras and zoom in or out.
Depending on the store, there may or may not be cameras in the fitting rooms. If there are, these are monitored by same-sex personnel.
The investigator is trained to watch for suspicious behavior. If he sees someone acting out of the ordinary, he will either follow them using CCTV or on foot, since most companies have policies on how much information the investigator much gather before apprehending a shoplifter.
In the loss prevention field, the investigator is trained to watch for suspicious behavior of not only customers, but employees as well.
For employees, behavior that the investigator watches for would be frequently opening a register, having friends come in during their shift, marking down merchandise without a manager override or either developing an over-friendly relationship or disgruntled relationship with the loss prevention department.
Out of the ordinary behaviors for customers include carrying empty bags, ignoring sales associates, watching the cameras, paying more attention to their surroundings rather than the merchandise they are selecting or walking along a back wall.
Most companies with loss prevention departments have policies in which the investigator has to follow before making an apprehension.
Once the investigator has fulfilled the policy that their company requires to make an apprehension, he will meet the shoplifter at the door, identify himself and recover the merchandise. Companies also hope that the shoplifters are apprehended and prosecuted so that he can charge them with civil demand.
Depending on the state, the laws of civil demand vary.
Investigators monitor employees with CCTV and by running reports on transactions that the employee performs. If an employee continuously marks down merchandise, they are likely to be watched to see if they are giving friends or family an extra discount.
Cash theft is also monitored. Investigators run reports on registers to find out if any cash shortages are occurring in the store, and then run reports on which sales associates or cashiers used the register on the day the shortage occurred.
Sometimes, employees may even be caught during routine bag checks in which the investigator recovers merchandise the employee was trying to leave the store with without paying.
If an employee is caught, he will be interrogated or "interviewed" by the investigator to find out why he did what he did, if he had been dishonest in the past and to try to gain information on if there is other dishonest activity going on with co-workers
Many companies will treat dishonest employees as shoplifters and prosecute them. Sometimes, however, they just have to pay civil demand and restitution.
Loss prevention investigators are also responsible for making sure the store is up to company standards. They will execute strategies to help control theft in the store, such as ink tagging certain merchandise or installing chimes above certain fitting rooms so that activity can be monitored more efficiently.
Auditing is also a part of the job. The investigator will go around the store with their paperwork and "grade" the different departments on the shortage control, such as ink-tagging or cabling.
Many companies prefer that loss prevention investigators have prior retail security experience.
Since the job is in a retail environment, employees have to be able to work retail hours. During the holidays, retail employees also have to have additional availability.
Some companies require investigators to be on-call at all times to answer alarm-calls if there is an issue in the store overnight.
Investigators should also have good observation skills and strong communication skills, and should be able to adapt to potentially hostile situations.
Salaries of investigators vary. For hourly employees, the pay can start as low as minimum wage.
For salaried investigators who may be the loss prevention manager, the salary may range from $30,000 to over $50,000.
The salary is based on experience, time with the company, educational degree and position with the company.
- Photo Credit surveillance vidÃ©o image by Bruno Bernier from Fotolia.com
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