It’s no secret that the Bridgeville Rite-Aid has been a hotbed of retail theft activity in recent years, sometimes accounting for more than 20% of arrests in the borough.
That trend screeched to a halt last year, however, when police arrested 28 people at Rite-Aid between January and March, but only two people between April and December.
That may be linked to a change in how Rite-Aid handles loss prevention, police chief Chad King told council in January.
“In March, the Rite-Aid corporation made the decision to no longer have a loss prevention officer at our Rite-Aid,” he said. “They say that it’s monitored from a remote location.
“For whatever reason, they couldn’t justify having a loss prevention officer here, which is beyond me because I think that for the past several years, we have averaged close to 100 calls per year at that location.”
That doesn’t mean that Rite-Aid is waving the white flag in the battle against shoplifting. But instead of focusing on apprehensions and criminal cases, the corporation is taking a multi-faceted approach to reduce overall inventory loss, or “shrink,” said Bob Oberosler, Rite-Aid’s vice-president of loss prevention, in an interview with Loss Prevention Magazine:
“So, one can have [a loss-prevention agent] who delivers a phenomenal shrink number,” he said, “or a loss prevention agent who’s making 300 shoplifting cases a year while shrink is out of control. I know which of the two I want in my organization.”
To deter shoplifters, Rite-Aid stores are investing in different levels of product-protection technology. Previously, a product might have had no protection, or it would have been locked in a glass case, which is prove to hurt sales.
For example, take a high-theft item like Prilosec. If you’re in a high-shrink store, you may have Profit Guard, which is basically a plastic shield over the shelf that sets off an alarm that gets louder the longer it stays open. Plus, you may have that in a vault. You may also be on quantity control. So, you have three or four layers of protection. The key is the customer can still pick it up and buy it, but at the same time you are controlling loss. On the other hand, a low-shrink store in a low-crime area may not need quantity control or Profit Guard. Just having a vault protector on it is enough.-Bob Oberosler, Rite-Aid Vice-President of Loss Prevention
Another component of the corporation’s new strategy is combating less-overt crimes, such as coupon fraud, or employee-assisted theft. That’s where the remote video and cash register monitoring comes into play.
“We had some clever people out there who had figured out ways to defraud the company and stay under the radar,” Oberosler said. “[Video and point-of-sale monitoring] was able to detect them.”