We get a lot of e-mails from students after they complete our online course letting us know a little bit more about the work that they do, why they were drawn to our content, and how they plan to apply it to their everyday processes and routines.  We recently received one such e-mail that brought up a great point that will be helpful for readers of our blog.  While it isn’t a frequently asked question, other professionals may have this issue come up, so we hope this post clarifies the idea and helps you make your processes more efficient. 

The person that completed our course works in loss prevention for a large retail chain in the United States.  He has begun using our program as the foundation for a system of safety measures at his store and is very satisfied with the improvements his team has made.  His question was in regards to retail theft and if his team can apply the program to catching and spotting people stealing. If so, what would a recommendation be for the hasty search and building a system to recognize anomalies in those instances?  

The question of loss prevention is particularly poignant, as we currently partner with multiple clients working to aid loss prevention using our observation and decision-making processes. The answer is yes, this process can definitely be used in loss prevention situations, with “Bang” being the act of a theft.  If you haven’t yet seen our piece that outlines the Hasty and Deliberate searches, here is a link to our “Tools, Guides, and References Page,” where you can find explanations of these processes.  By using the flow chart and processes, you should be able to build a consistent baseline for the various environments that you are tasked with protecting.  Using those baselines, you will then want to practice observing anomalies using the specific language that we teach in our programs to ensure that you are remaining unbiased and using the brain and the body’s response to the situation as your guide.  

For the purposes of building your process and training program, it is important to remember that theft is not the typical intent for most patrons to your business.  The normal flow of customers will be the baseline.  For instance, in a grocery store, the “normal” flow that a person operates under may be, that he or she enters your store, moves to the area where the baskets or carriages are located, then takes the carriage around the store to different areas to select items.  After selecting their items they will move to the checkout area of the store, pay for their items, and leave.  During each step in this process the human body will display a series of normal behavior indicators.  These indicators at each state become your baseline.  In many cases involving customers, the baseline for individuals will be the comfortable cluster, but not always, so it is important to set your baselines using observed behavior and not inherent expectations. 

Once you set the baseline, using evidence, experience, photo, video surveillance, etc, you can take the baselines for each stage of your customer’s operational processes to your team to understand what is normal.  From there, you can then overlay action steps when there are three indicators of behavior that fall outside the baseline at each step.  For instance, if the baseline for individuals selecting their items in a grocery store is comfortable and you observe three indicators of discomfort during this process, that customer will warrant further attention.  These behaviors are your anomalies and may indicate that someone is there for reasons besides what is considered normal.  By using this framework and methodology your team will be on the same page with each other, making the process to observe and recognize anomalies significantly easier.   

At this point, it is up to you to dictate the operational processes that you and your team will follow based on acceptable procedure, laws, and customer service requirements.  Some of the teams that we work with choose to bucket their anomalies and respond to some by surveilling them more specifically through video, engaging in conversation with the customer, or calling an authority if they have enough evidence to advance the process.

We hope that in answering this question we are able to shed a little light on how behavioral analysis and behavior observation can improve loss prevention systems and processes.  If you have more questions about our work and how it benefit you and your team please let us know.  And of course, if you know another professional who may benefit from this post, please feel free to share it with them. 

Stay Safe