Observing Suspects

Security officers, if alert, will often come into contact with persons who appear suspicious. The person’s behavior is different from a normal person. For security officers who work in retail establishments, the opportunity to witness suspicious behavior will occur daily.

Since retailers need to display their products or merchandise in ways to stop and attract potential buyers, they are susceptible to product being stolen.

A shopkeeper is vulnerable to theft from many different threats:

  • Non-employee who steals (shoplifting)
  • Employee who steals (internal theft or embezzlement)
  • Theft of merchandise
  • Theft of cash

Employee Education & Awareness

All employees, but particularly all sales associates and security officers, should be educated as to what they need to be suspicious of concerning the activities of possible shoplifters:

  1. Watch for persons who hang around and handle items but make no effort to purchase anything.
  2. Look for acts that would distract sales clerks while an accomplice steals.
  3. Watch for people who hang around rest rooms or lounges.
  4. Be wary of the customer who is extremely nervous handling merchandise.
  5. Watch people who hang around displays which are hidden from clerks.
  6. Watch for people who wear heavy clothing in mild weather.
  7. Watch for persons with oversize handbags, open packages or shopping bags carried or in shopping carts.
  8. Be careful of the person who always has a handkerchief
  9. Watch for teenagers grouped around displays.
  10. Be alert for unauthorized persons entering receiving rooms or stock rooms.
  11. Watch for persons whose eyes are constantly looking around to see what is going on around them rather than paying attention to the merchandise they are handling. Be particularly suspicious of persons whose eyes glance from right to left and back again.
  12. Be cautious of people who want to take several items of clothing into a dressing room. Be very suspicious of people who select the identical type and size of clothing and who quickly enter a dressing room.


Security Officer Training & Experience

Security personnel who have received proper training from their employer and who have years of experience in observing human behavior will be a very valuable asset to their employer!

Remember – the primary objective of security is deterrence. A security officer who is constantly alert while moving about on patrol and who can distinguish between normal and suspicious activity will greatly minimize theft.