Case Study # 1: The Injured Shoe Shopper
Shoplifting Case Study # 1 – Injured Shoe Shopper: Case Studies, Summit Loss Prevention Consulting, Inc., Indianapolis, Indiana (IN)
Summit Loss Prevention Consulting's president, Tony Jarana, has worked on
thousands of different types of cases during a quarter century of field
work and loss prevention management. This is just one example of the
many situations in which you may find yourself:
Case Study # 1
A national retailer had two Loss Prevention Officers (LPO's) working on a February night in a store in
northern Indiana several years ago.
From the Loss Prevention Office in
the rear of the store, while observing the monitors of the
store's video surveillance system (CCTV) the LPO's detected a female
customer in the shoe department.
The experienced Loss Prevention Officers both watched as the
woman removed the shoes she was wearing when she entered the store
and put a new pair of shoes on in their place. The woman then took her old pair of shoes and placed them
in the empty shoe box and returned it to the shelf.
The LP Officers
maintained constant surveillance of the woman as she made her way around
the department store. She selected an inexpensive kitchen appliance and
proceeded to the front register area where she paid for the appliance.
The LP Officers hurried to the front of the store and waited for the
woman to exit the store wearing her unpaid-for shoes.
The LP Officers followed the suspect outside and confronted her about the shoes. The woman
denied removing anything and attempted to enter her vehicle which was
parked in the store parking lot. The LP Officers were not going to
allow her to simply leave with the stolen shoes and attempted to
physically detain the woman.
In the parking lot, at night, with icy
patches around her vehicle, while struggling with the two LP Officers,
the woman lost her balance, slipped and fell. The woman struck her head
on the fender of a vehicle and then again on the frozen asphalt lot.
The LP Officers realized immediately that she was knocked unconscious
and saw that she was bleeding badly from a head wound. Emergency medical
assistance was requested and the woman was hospitalized in a coma. She regained consciousness many days later and was diagnosed with
partial permanent brain damage.
For the price of a pair of shoes, this retailer had a huge lawsuit pending against it. The case
was eventually settled for more than two million dollars.
Personal Injury by an Employee: Whether You're Right or Wrong,
The fact that
the woman was observed committing the theft, even videotaped evidence
wasn't sufficient to defend the retailer and the corporate attorneys
were aware of that reality. Although this is an extreme case, the
potential always exists for a liability suit for damages when employees,
or managers, or even well-trained Loss Prevention Officers confront a
When you examine the tragic event detailed above, it is obvious what went wrong.
judgment was displayed on the part of the Loss Prevention personnel when
they decided to physically confront the suspect in rather extreme
conditions. This national retailer, with an extremely sophisticated
Loss Prevention department, had trained the LP Officers well regarding
their technical responsibilities. They followed all company loss
prevention guidelines as they:
- Observed the suspect
- Videotaped her
behavior for use as evidence
- Then waited while she passed through
the checkout island without making proper payment for the shoes on her
Then they made a critical error in judgment. As described, the
men followed the suspect outside and during a physical confrontation,
she became severely injured. At the time, there were at least two other possible options for the Loss Prevention personnel.
either option would have resulted in enough pertinent information for
a police investigator to use in pursuing a criminal investigation and
eliminated the possibility of the suspect becoming injured. It is
difficult to train someone to use good judgment, but it is important to
demonstrate that effort.
How to Prevent Situations Like This
For information, call 317-363-8312, send email to
info@SummitLossPrevention.com. or submit the short form below: