How Retailers Can Be Better Victim Advocates—For Themselves and Their Communities
August 5, 2022
Constanza Trebilcock
When it comes to retail theft, a lack of reporting the crime in the first place is unfortunately quite common. However, it initiates a domino effect—without reporting retail crime, law enforcement cannot do their jobs to identify and arrest offenders, prosecutors cannot take them to court, and nothing gets done. Not only does this have a major impact on loss prevention efforts, but it can create unsafe stores and communities. Retailers are the first victims of retail theft and crime. This positions them to be the biggest advocates for the loss prevention and criminal justice efforts behind stopping retail crime. This is how retailers can be better victim advocates, not only for themselves but for their communities.

Take Crime and Theft Seriously—Report It

When stores tolerate even the lowest level of theft, it prevents law enforcement from taking action and prevents offenders from experiencing criminal repercussions, thus encouraging repeat offenses, often to the same stores. The first step in breaking this cycle is to report crime to your local law enforcement officers as quickly as possible and provide them with detailed, accurate, and complete incident reports. This ensures that law enforcement and investigators can do their jobs effectively to identify and charge a criminal. With all the shrink data and evidence—specifically video evidence and witness statements—you provide, law enforcement can investigate the crime fully to find out if it is part of a larger pattern of incidents or organized retail crime.

Build Trust with Local Law Enforcement

Continue working with law enforcement throughout the investigation process so you can help them provide prosecutors with enough information and evidence to build a strong case in court. This will also build trust with law enforcement and prove that you are a proactive participant and dedicated team player in the fight against retail crime. Building this trust and creating this partnership will encourage your local law enforcement to become an ally to your store and your employees, and respond quickly to future incidents.

Speak Up

As the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention (NASP) says, “Your victim’s statement is your voice.” Speak up and tell your story to local law enforcement and prosecutors to prove in court the impact retail crime and theft has had on your store, your employees, and your customers. Empower your staff and witnesses to speak up as well. Teach your staff how to collaborate with law enforcement and encourage them to give their victim statements to local officers. It’s also important to encourage them to show up to court when called upon and, if needed, provide them the support they need to get to court safely.

Pay Attention and Get Involved

Become a stakeholder in your loss prevention community and get involved in the efforts taking place around you, such as organized retail crime associations or task forces advocating for better legislation. You can also become a part of a boots-on-the-ground solution such as the ALTO Alliance. Members of the ALTO Alliance come together to engage communities and address retail crime at its root causes. ALTO staff partner with retailers to build collaborative partnerships with local law enforcement, prosecutors, government officials, and community resources. ALTO’s legal team also supports retailers by serving as victim advocates and following their retail clients’ cases throughout the criminal court process. No matter how retailers get involved, it’s important to pay attention to how retail crime is affecting your community, speak up to hold your local leaders and government officials accountable, and form partnerships in order to successfully prevent future retail crime—together as a community.