Case Study # 2: The Over-Aggressive Big Box Floorwalker
Shoplifting Case Study # 2 – Over-Aggressive Big Box Floorwalker: 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 # 2
At a 'big box' home center store in Michigan, on the outskirts of
Detroit, a Loss Prevention Operative, more commonly known as a
'floorwalker' was making his normal rounds. 'Floorwalkers' are trained
LP staff members whose job entails posing as a customer and continuously
walking, or shopping, the store for a six-to-eight hour shift.
stores have the loss prevention budget to have several 'floorwalkers' on
duty at a time, others use only one, but have a LP Officer watching the
surveillance system (CCTV) from a remote area. The 'floorwalkers' are
trained that their job is to deter customer theft, but the natural
instinct with many of these individuals is to 'catch' somebody in the
act and apprehend them.
This is why designing and implementing Loss Prevention and
Security standards and guidelines is an absolute necessity, and conducting Loss Prevention Training and/or Security
Officer Training is imperative.
On the day in question, this 'floorwalker' had been observing a suspicious customer as he was
shopping in the power tool aisle. What took place next is a chilling
reminder of how costly one mistake can be:
The plainclothes LP Operative witnessed the suspicious
customer select a cordless drill and conceal it on his waistline
under a heavy winter coat. The suspect began making
his way to the exit doors of the store with the 'floorwalker' close
The store management team and many employees were familiar with
the 'floorwalker' and he signaled to an Assistant Manager to let him
know that he was 'on' a suspect involved with a theft attempt. The suspect departed the store without making any payment for the drill and the LP Operative,
assisted by two alerted Assistant Managers, stopped the man, confronted
him about the un-paid for item, quickly recovered it and escorted him
back inside and into the LP Office near the front end of the store.
man was rather small, wearing glasses, and appeared to be in his
mid-sixties. As per policy, the LP Operative and one Assistant
Manager stayed in the room with the suspect and the other
Assistant left the room to contact the local police department to inform them a 'shoplifting stop' had been made and the
store was requesting police response to press theft charges and have the
The store had a high incidence of external theft of this
nature and the local police had taken several dozen similar calls from
that store over the previous year. The Police Dispatcher, as was the
norm, asked if the suspect resisted or was presenting any physical
threat and was told that the situation was under control, which it was
at the time. Police Officers were dispatched to the store.
In the meantime, the clearly scared and very anxious male
suspect asked the men
detaining him in the LP Office to release him. As is common, he began
to apologize for his actions, swear it was the first time he had ever
stolen anything and promise that he would never attempt anything like it
again. Soon, he was emotional and literally begging to be let go.
Following procedure and using his LP Training,
the LP Operative requested that the man show him some identification. (Someone at the
store level should always attempt to establish the identity of anyone
that they detain and incorporate this information into an Incident
Report documenting the event.)
The man, who had been sitting down,
stood up and demanded to be let go. Clearly, the situation was
escalating and the police had not yet arrived. In some circumstances,
police officers who are dispatched to 'non-emergency' incidents respond
more casually than to their other runs.
In situations like this very
real example, a slow police response time can lead to very bad
consequences with damaging results. The LP Operative made the decision to attempt handcuffing the agitated and
unpredictable suspect. He approached the man from behind and was
attempting to pull one of the suspect's arms back when the suspect
The LP Operative, about 6'1" and 210 pounds, was 26
years old and in very good health. When the suspect jerked forward,
the LP Operative lost his balance and fell on top of the man, driving
him to the concrete floor and landing on him with his full weight. The
suspect hit face first, breaking his nose and shattering his glasses
directly into his eyes.
When the Assistant Manager and LP Operative
were able to turn the man over he was bleeding profusely from his face.
Blood was flowing down the suspect's face and body, and had begun to
spread onto the floor. The man sat dazed, head drooped forward, in a
growing red pool.
At that moment, the police opened the LP Office door
which struck the suspect flush in the head, knocking him violently
backward. The police officers had arrived believing they were
responding to a routine theft case and were immediately presented with a
potentially life threatening ordeal.
Emergency medical personnel were
called and the suspect was transported to the ER to begin the horrifying
process of having glass shards removed from his face and eyes.
The bottom line? The cordless drill was valued at less than $100.00.
The medical bills
and resulting litigation settlement cost the company more than
$1,000,000.00! While better training may have increased the
company's Loss Prevention budget, it would have saved considerably in
How to Prevent Situations Like This
For information, call 317-363-8312, send email to
info@SummitLossPrevention.com. or submit the short form below: