Retail Crime: How Stores Can Help Law Enforcement in their Community
May 31, 2022
Constanza Trebilcock
I’ve written about the importance of forming collaborative relationships with law enforcement—frequent communication, complete incident reports, and partnership meetings are all aspects. But, from a law enforcement perspective, here are some ways stores can do their part to help law enforcement officers and ORC investigators successfully tackle and prosecute retail crime in their community.

Educating on the Importance of Your Protocol 

First and foremost, ORC teams should prepare their store managers and retail employees for the eventuality of retail theft. Educate them on when it can happen and what it may look like, and train them on your protocols and safety procedures. If you have a concrete plan in place and your store manager is trained adequately, they can reinforce these protocols with their staff and help them improve for future incidents. Beyond that, educate your employees on the reasons behind your company protocol. Employees who understand the importance of the rules and regulations, like keeping themselves and others safe, will be able to act within company policy when an incident occurs. Staff who understand the importance of accurately reporting crime will also be more mentally prepared to remember and record the necessary details of an incident to be properly reported and charged by law enforcement. Staff members who do their part for their community and gather data for their local officers will improve relationships with law enforcement and get better outcomes.

Paying Attention to the Details 

There are a few key pieces of information that are often overlooked that law enforcement needs from retailers to fully report a crime. In an incident report, documenting exactly what type of merchandise was stolen and being able to indicate a proper dollar amount for that merchandise is extremely important. Gathering information on exactly what items were stolen can help officers and investigators identify a criminal and potentially connect that incident to other criminal activity. It can help identify a string of crimes or organized retail crime and elevate the case from a single-time offense to a larger one. Documenting violence and damage to property can also change the nature of a crime. Did the thief break signage, break a window, or push past an employee? Documenting even small but relevant details about a crime can set apart a petty theft from a robbery or a felony. Information like that makes a big difference to law enforcement, strengthening relationships between retailers and their local officers and bolstering engagement from law enforcement and prosecutors.

Setting an Example in Your Neighborhood 

Retailers in the same neighborhood have a responsibility to each other to be good neighbors and work together to tackle and prevent retail crime. Reporting crime accurately and timely creates more engagement in your neighborhood and builds better relationships between your retail community and law enforcement. Reporting crime in your neighborhood will encourage other stores to follow suit, especially larger leading retailers. Large retailers can set an example by engaging with law enforcement more effectively and stopping crime before it spills over to their neighboring retailers. ALTO helps retailers set an example by reinforcing proper incident reporting, strengthening relationships with local police officers, and following up on retail theft cases to ensure that change is being made.