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Sharing data is sensible way for retailers to reduce loss prevention

The sharing of data relating to loss prevention, and other in-store crimes, between the retail community and the Police can have a major impact on reducing the levels of losses suffered by the industry. By Glynn Davis


Sharing data is sensible way for retailers to reduce loss prevention

Ahead of appearing in a panel discussion at the 4th Retail Bulletin Loss Prevention Summit 2013 on September 10 Maxine Fraser, national operations director for Retailers Against Crime (RAC), says: “Information sharing is key to deterrence of crime. Although it will never go away, if you do not share and assist each other then it won’t help. We’re another tool in the [prevention] box.” 

Founded in 1997 in Scotland the information sharing scheme now has 2,000 retailers on board not only within Scotland but also Northern Ireland and the North West of England. It is one of a number of such schemes around the UK that share their sensitive information with the objective of reducing theft.

Fraser says these schemes act as methods of forewarning retailers to crime, which she says falls into three categories – local, which is largely committed by people supporting substance abuse habits; national, whereby the criminals cross Police boundaries; and organised crime that could be bulk theft, card fraud and counterfeit notes.

RAC receives information from its retailer members, which can come in a wide variety of formats – including secure emails, recorded delivery, or from retailers’ head offices on a spreadsheet. It can include video footage (from VCRs in some cases) as well as from digital CCTV that also enables photos to be grabbed.

If relevant then RAC will pass information onto the relevant Police but typically it will be added to the members-only area of its website. It also sends out Intelligence Briefings each month to its members that are often placed on retailers’ intranets for maximum distribution. “We send them to 2,000 retailers but it could be ten-times that who actually see it,” she says.

The RAC also works with the National Fraud Authority that cannot disclose much of its information but it can distribute ”sanitised versions” that might detail phishing or other methods that detail how crimes are committed and can therefore help retailers avoid it.

Although it receives a lot of information Fraser says nobody apart from RAC employees see it all as it is only distributed on a case-by-case basis to relevant retailers – such as to those within a specific area where a certain criminal is operating.

The organisation is particularly adept at identifying criminals – from its rich data – that are then added to the members’ area of the RAC’s website. “It works very well and we’re very successful with our ID. Last year we identified a team from a big bulk theft and then waited for them to come back to commit the same crime – which they always do if they’ve been successful once – and we arrested them and they are now in prison,” explains Fraser.

Despite its obvious benefits to retailers in helping them with their loss prevention strategies she says there are still some merchants in the area of the RAC that have not yet joined the scheme. For a cost of membership of only £2 per week per store Fraser says the equivalent value of goods could be stolen in a matter of minutes from a retailers’ store.

Hear the latest loss prevention strategies and network with like-minded peers at the Retail Bulletin’s 4th Retail Bulletin Loss Prevention Summit, 10th September 2013. Learn and discuss with eminent speakers from B&Q, Phones 4u, Scotmid Co-op, ebay, Metropolitan Police, SPAR, University of Leicester, National Fraud Authority, CIFAS, Retailers Against Crime, MeadWestvaco. Click here for programme details and registration.

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