Loss prevention - Security tags

A new generation of loss prevention

Over two-thirds of loss prevention professionals believe electronic article surveillance plays an important and effective role in deterring theft, according to the latest industry survey from Loss Prevention Magazine.

Meanwhile, the report has highlighted the shifting role of the loss prevention sector, the new challenges faced and the rise in loss prevention problems such as internal theft and organized retail crime.

Here’s an insight into what this report from inside the loss prevention industry found…

The 2019 survey

Entitled The new generation of loss prevention, the loss prevention survey was developed in consultation with industry leaders and featured 55 questions relating to how the industry was evolving.

Over 600 respondents took part from all levels of the loss prevention sector, with the report noting the retail landscape is changing courtesy of innovation and new technology.

“With every revelation comes new opportunities for growth and invention—and new challenges for the new generation of loss prevention/asset protection,” they note. “The fact is, we are deep into a new generation of loss prevention.”


Shoplifting still remains a major concern for loss prevention professionals who ranked the role of shoplifting as 7.4 out of 10 in the overall shrink performance of their companies.

They further noted identifying and apprehending shoplifters was a priority, ranking it 6.7 out of 10.

However, the survey notes, when asked whether retailers should put less emphasis on apprehending shoplifters and more emphasis on deterring theft in the stores, agreement amongst survey participants varied depending on the level of leadership.

Eighty-four percent of top loss prevention leadership agreed there should be more emphasis on deterrence, while less than 50 per cent of those in store-level positions agreed.

“Very few believe that loss prevention professionals should have the discretion to pursue shoplifters beyond the boundaries of the store,” the survey found.

Organized retail crime

As reflected in numerous studies this year, organized retail crime is seen as a growing problem in the battle to combat retail theft.

“Ninety-two percent of survey respondents believe that organized retail crime (ORC) is a real and growing problem in today’s retail environment,” the report found.

Violence rising

In addition to an increase in organized retail crime, the majority of loss prevention professionals also believe shoplifting crimes are becoming more violent.

More than six out of 10 (62 per cent) of respondents agreed that incidents involving violent behaviours had increased in their area of responsibility over the past 12 months.

“Sixty-five per cent believe shoplifting incidents involving those addicted to opioids and other addictive drugs have increased over the same period.”

Internal theft

Many loss prevention professionals also view internal theft as a priority. In fact, internal theft was considered on par with shoplifting when it came to shrinking challenges affecting the retail environment

Survey respondents ranked the role that internal theft plays in the overall shrink performance of their company as a 7.4 out of 10.

Loss prevention methods

Loss prevention - Security tags

The survey respondents consistently noted loss prevention involved a layered approach that included deterrence, staff training, good interview techniques for onboarding staff, and the use of appropriate technology.

The majority believed electronic article surveillance, including security tags, security labels and monitoring antenna, along with other merchandise protection strategies played an important role.

“Overall, 68 per cent of respondents believe that when used correctly, merchandise protection standards (EAS and other security measures) are truly effective in deterring theft in retail stores,” the report found.

“Those at the higher levels of loss prevention leadership held stronger beliefs that these measures are effective (75 per cent).”

Meanwhile, auditing was also considered an essential tool in identifying shoplifting trends. Strong operational controls and auditing were ranked 7.7 out of 10 as an important function in the overall shrink performance of a company

Interviewing was viewed as critical in combatting internal theft.

“Overall, survey participants rate the importance of having a strong and successful background in interviewing as a loss prevention professional as 8.3 out of 10.”

The future

Like all areas of the retail sector, technology is playing an increasing role in combatting shoplifting and loss, and many loss prevention professionals (92 per cent) acknowledge the landscape is likely to change further

“Ninety-six per cent feel it’s becoming much more important for loss prevention professionals to learn more about information technology and the retail supply chain, while 81 per cent feel that they have adequate understanding and training regarding the technology and other resources used to accomplish loss prevention goals,” the report found.