Strange ReTales: Theft And Fraud


One of the constant issues in AV retail that requires diligence is theft and fraud.

In past blog posts I’ve talked about employees behaving badly, but theft and fraud from the outside is also a problem.

Working in a high-end AV shop, as part of the client-building process I always walked the client to the cashier’s station and was on hand while they rang up the transaction.

The reason was that nearly 100% of the time the credit card machine would demand the cashier phone the credit card company for a manual authorization.

Rather than let clients get offended by that, I managed their expectation. “Most people don’t usually spend twenty five grand at a stereo store on regular basis” I’d say, “The bank will want to confirm that it’s really you.”

That level of consideration makes people feel special and builds loyalty and referral business.

What I didn’t tell them was that sometimes it really was a fraudulent purchase. This level of consideration I extended was more than a little self-serving.

I’ll even admit to having been a little bit spoiled for most of my career, and mostly worked in locations where theft was minimal. The store I managed in a sleepy little mall in a community surrounded by seniors’ homes meant we were a destination for serious shoppers, but almost completely lacked any actual security.

We didn’t even have merchandise alarm tags. Yet I maintained an annual shrinkage of less than one percent.

After that, working in a department store in a busy mall just outside downtown was an eye opening experience. It was the first time where I really had to pay much attention to securing merchandise.

The proximity to some less-than-nice neighborhoods meant daily arrests by the store’s loss prevention officers.

And some of those arrests got pretty dramatic when the shoplifter resisted arrest.

“He fell” was the most common source of injuries to crackheads apprehended by loss prevention: falling against door-frames, concrete parkade barriers, and in at least one incident I can remember, falling down an escalator.