Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Your front-line employees are not security guards

A video made the rounds yesterday on Twitter of a mass of Best Buy employees foiling a shoplifting attempt with a stellar zone defense.

The video, taken from store security footage, shows three individuals grab cell phones from a display and attempt to flee the store. The noise generated by the theft alerted the store's employees, who deployed what can best be described as a three-deep zone to thwart the robbery.

Best Buy has a "no-touch" policy shoplifting policy for its employees. It allows them to confront a suspect inside the store but prohibits any physical engagement or pursuit of a suspected shoplifter.

I'm here to tell you that Best Buy needs to re-write its policy. Sure, the viral video is funny. But it's also nowhere near a best practice. Your employees should never confront a (suspected) thief.

Your employees are not trained law enforcement professionals, and they shouldn't act like it. If you're concerned about shoplifting or other thefts, then you should deploy professional security to patrol and respond. You should also train all employees not to engage or confront, and instead to summon the designated responder or call the police. They should do nothing else to try to foil the robbery.

Don't leave it up to your untrained employees to try to detain a thief. A cell phone, an unpaid check, or whatever else is not worth an employee getting injured or worse. Your employees' safety and lives are more valuable than whatever the thieves will get away with. Anything less is unacceptable. Just ask your employees and their families.