Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Catching employees who Steal

We conduct integrity checks on our employees on a regular basis. Basically, I select an employee and I try to tempt them into stealing something. Some take the bait, some don’t. In order to select employees who may be more apt to take the bait, you may have to do some research to see exactly what motivates them. With some, it can be cash, others, merchandise. It all depends.
A good investigator once told me, every time he observed an employee hugging or lying on a register, he’d conduct an integrity check on that associate. His logic was, whenever an employee displayed that type of affection for the register, he/she was actually stating that the register and its contents belonged to that person. I don’t know about all that, but, for shits and grins, I decided to test his theory.
On my way to my office one day, I observed an employee leaning on a register. She was standing behind the register with her arms folded and resting on the top of the register. I took note and went to personnel to check her schedule for the week so I could attempt to prove or disprove my friend’s theory.
With the help of personnel, I arranged for the associate to open a register in a department by herself the next morning. The register also happened to be under surveillance by my office at that time. I had installed a camera in the ceiling above the register, two weeks earlier, to rid myself of another dishonest employee. Every register had a Plexiglas tile over it in the ceiling. The Plexiglas tile was tinted and you couldn’t tell if there was a camera in it or not. The funny thing was, sometimes there was, and sometimes, there wasn’t. The video footage from this vantage point was phenomenal; I could see directly inside the register drawer and everything on the counter. I could even see the denomination of the bills as they were counted.
After leaving personnel, I visited the cashier cage and they issued me a crisp new fifty dollar bill (which I had to sign for) and we both made note of its serial number.
About an hour after the store was closed for the night, I returned with my keys and alarm codes. I opened the register the associate would be using the next morning. Per company policy, each register had no less than $100.00 and no more than $100.99 each night before closing. The bills were supposed to be in different denominations (so employees couldn’t get lazy and only keep five 20's or ten 10's). It had to be that way so that when the register was opened for business, the associate had change for any bill a customer might tender first thing in the morning.
On this particular night, the register had two $20 dollar bills, three $10 dollar bills, two $5 dollar bills, twenty $1 dollar bills and some coin change. I counted the ones again, and feeling this would be the best place to insert a misplaced bill, I removed a small piece of my chewing gum, affixed it to the back of the $50 bill and pressed it against a $1 bill. Then I placed this in the middle of the stack of $1s.
The next morning, I was first to enter the store. I proceeded to my office before any employee could note that I was on site. While in the office, I could observe the whole store, so I sat there and watched until I could follow the associate to her register.
After getting situated, she opened the register and began to count the cash inside. When she got to the ones, she located the $50 and looked at it very closely. She placed it to the side and recounted the $1s again. Then, to make sure that she’d counted right, she recounted the whole register again. Now, by policy, she had approximately 30 minutes to contact the cashier’s cage and alert them to any overage or shortage in the register she just opened. She closed the register with the fifty dollar bill still sitting on the side. She looked around, and before pocketing it, she did something, that, to this day, I’ve never understood. She looked up to the black Plexiglas square above her head, right into the camera, as if to say, “Did you see that?”
For some reason, all employees do that before they do something stupid. I don’t know if it’s a prayer, hoping there’s nothing in the box, or, if they are simply saying to us, “Ok, come and get me.”
I pride myself in being a fair and open-minded person. At least, that’s what I tell myself. With employees, I am less patient than I am with shoplifters, but sometimes, I make exceptions. As soon as she pocketed the cash, I could have gone straight to the department and arrested her. However, I was trying to be nice, so, I allowed her the complete thirty minutes as store policy dictated. I was hoping she would have a conscience and return the cash.
Needless to say, those thirty minutes came and went, and she had not developed any remorse or conscience about stealing from her employer, not even when the police department escorted her through the store with cuffs on.

Friday, August 29, 2008

The Tale of the $6.00 per Hour Security Guard

Once, I worked as a guard for a company that had a Government contract. It was really easy, but the pay was lousy. I made $6.00 per hour. Every day, I’d get the paper when I got off and look for another job. The guys I worked with thought I was crazy.
Late night, we’d stand around and talk. They were basically happy making peasant wages. Not me, every night, I’d tell them I was getting out of here the first chance I got.
Guys would ask me, “Where you going to go and make more money than this working security?”
I’d tell them I was worth more than six bucks; I was going to find a job for at least twice that. They’d all laugh and say, “There are no $12.00 jobs in security,” and that I should stop dreaming and get back to work.
Then one morning, just about the same time I got into bed after the night shift, the company I worked for called. The personnel lady informed me that my security clearance papers hadn’t been filled out properly and they wanted me to come in right then and correct them so they could conduct the background check.
Now, I’m not a fool; I knew that this clearance was going to cost them at least ten thousand dollars and they wanted to pay me six fucking dollars. I told the lady that there wasn’t a whole lot I’d do for six dollars, and getting out of bed to drive thirty minutes to fill out a form was one of the things I would not do. I hung up the phone.
When I got back to work that night, the supervisor came to me and inquired about the forms. I told him the same thing I’d told the lady on the phone. Then the asshole asked me why I had to be so belligerent. At that moment, I gave my two weeks’ notice.
Later, we were outside having our normal talk, and all the other officers again told me there were no twelve dollar jobs, and that the company we worked for was a good company, and that I should go fill out the form and stay.
I did my two weeks and told them all to take care; I was going to find me a good paying security job.
The next day, I landed a job for $13.00! I worked for a couple of months and, one day, I was on my way home from work when I decided to stop in and check on my old friends. I pulled up and they all came out and asked how things were going.
I explained how I had landed a new job and what it paid. They all got excited and I told them that there were no more thirteen dollar jobs, I got the last one. Before I left, I also informed them I was waiting on my weapons permit and that I was in line for another job that paid eighteen dollars an hour. They almost went into shock. I laughed all the way home.
Several months later, after I had started working my new job, I dropped by to check on them again. This time, I was driving a shiny new 300ZX. I pulled up and they didn’t have a clue who the fuck I was. They all stood there looking to see who was in the car.
I got out and they almost fainted. I told them about my latest job and its eighteen dollar pay, and they almost shit. They wanted to know how they could get a position at the new place. “Sorry,” I told them, “they have no more eighteen dollar positions. I got the last one.”
But, before I left, I couldn’t help but explain to them about the new position I had accepted. I’d taken a position overseas that paid a whopping seventy thousand dollars! They couldn’t believe it.
The moral to this story is, if you feel like six bucks is all you’re worth, then six dollars is all you’ll ever get.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Why I arrested my best friends girlfriend

One of our LP managers had a problem with an employee who was ripping off merchandise on Saturdays, which happened to be the manager’s day off. When I found out about it, I asked her why she didn’t call me so I could come in and take care of it. Well, the girl in question was the girlfriend of my best friend, and he himself was a LP manager at one of our other stores. I explained that I didn’t have a problem with it and she’d be treated like any other suspect. The case became mine.
The first Saturday, I came in and positioned myself in a tower behind a display so that I’d have a clear view of her department all day. Well, that didn’t work because all hell broke lose during the shift. The first major call I got was a customer attempting to walk out the store with some comforters that he hadn’t paid for. I caught his ass on the escalator, tall ass brother with two expensive comforters and no store bags. I jumped on the escalator behind him and gently whispered something to the effect that, if, he attempted to leave the store without paying for the merchandise, he’d have to deal with me. He never said a word, never turned around. When the escalator got to the bottom, he dropped the merchandise on the floor and headed straight out the door. First crisis over!
I got back into position. As soon as I was settled, I got a call that a customer had a gun. Damn! I left my perch and went to check on the situation. I got to the department just as the guy was exiting the store. The department manager walked with me, telling me what the guy had said and done in the department. Not his lucky day. I walked outside and the first cop that came by, I relayed the info to him. They picked his dumb ass up for aggravated assault. By the time everyone had finished with their statements, the day was over. The girl I came to watch, she smiled and waved on her way out the door. I swear, I couldn’t remember, but, I thought those sunglasses she had on belonged to us. Oh well, one thing about a successful thief, they are like satisfied customers. They always come back.
The next Saturday, I met her when she entered the store. I walked her to her department so I could make a mental note of everything she had on and in her possession. I instructed store management that I was working on an internal case; I was not to be disturbed unless it was absolutely necessary. The first couple of hours in my perch were boring. The fun started when the girl working with her in the department went on a break. She made her way over to the costume jewelry counter and removed a pair of earrings. She did the whole bit and placed them beside her ear while looking into a mirror. No doubt, she was looking for me. She then removed the earrings from the backing and put them on. I had to admit they looked pretty good on her. She then put the backing in the drawer under her register.
Later, she walked into the women’s clothing department, next to where she worked, and selected a pink jacket. She took it back to her department and put it on. When she tried on that jacket, everything clicked. I knew then what was different when she left the store the week before. It was a tan scarf. I didn’t notice it when she left because I was so busy, but I could see it vividly in my mind. Also, it didn’t hurt that the same scarf was hanging in the department next to where she got the jacket.
So what she’d do was, the day before, select the items she wanted to steal. She’d wear something that would match the item she was going to take and no one would notice because it didn’t come from her department anyway. She put that pink jacket on, and I swear, it matched her outfit perfectly. My heart started beating fast, especially when she started looking for scissors to cut off the tag. When she couldn’t find a pair in her department, she simply tucked the tag inside the sleeve.
Everything was cool until the girl working with her came back from break. She said something about the jacket, probably about how pretty it was on her, and my suspect began twirling around in front of the mirror like she was a customer. I knew, at that point, she couldn’t take the jacket because the other girl had commented on it. Damn. But I still had the earrings to hope for.
It’s funny, if you ever go into a loss prevention office, watch the officers work, we go into this cheerleader mode and we become the little voice in the suspect’s head whispering, “Come on, take it, please, nobody will know, nobody.” All the time, we’re rooting for people to fuck up so we can catch them.
Finally, my suspect went on her lunch break which meant she was probably going to be exiting the building. When she went to clock out, I went into her department and retrieved the backing from the earrings.
When she was leaving the building, I managed to run into her but I made no mention of her new earrings. Actually, I could have arrested her as soon as she left the facility with the merchandise. But, management was a little soft and they might believe her story that she’d tried them on and forgot to remove them before she went to lunch. However, when she returned and I faked going to lunch, the earrings mysteriously disappeared.
Now, all I had to do was watch her for the rest of the shift to insure she didn’t try to put the item back without my knowledge. This would be rather difficult since I now had the backing in my pocket.
After a while, I started rooting for her to put the items back, but with less than twenty minutes to go before closing, I didn’t think she would. Damn. Even though I’ve arrested employees before, this one was going to be hard. This was my best friend’s girlfriend; she’d even been to my house, met my girlfriend. Damn. I do have a bit of a conscience.
Shit! I picked up the phone, called my friend, told him the situation, and informed him that I could go downstairs and tell her to give the earrings back and there would be no harm and no foul, or the other option was, I could treat her like all the rest of our suspects and bust her. It became his decision. He didn’t even think about it, he said, “Do your job, bust her dumb ass!”
She exited the store, said goodbye to me and the store manager (who didn’t have a clue what the hell was going on). I followed her outside and arrested her. She cried like a baby. Then, she begged me not to tell her boyfriend and pleaded with me to pick her up from the police station so she didn’t have to call him or her family to get her. I felt bad but I had to explain to her that I couldn’t pick her up because it’d be a conflict of interest. So I told her to call my girlfriend and she’d pick her up from the station.
That was one of the toughest things I had to do in my early years in LP. As for my friend, it didn’t bother him at all. He broke up with her that same day; he told me it was disrespectful for her to be stealing when she knew what he did for a living.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Security Officer gets fired on his day off

Just like any other job, working security is no different. We've all worked along side some strange and interesting people, however in security at times I think we get the abundance of them.

Everyone of us has at one time or another worked with someone whom has done something just so utterly stupid that you didn't know whether to laugh or feel sorry for the poor soul.

So for today I think I'll give you the story of a former co-worker and his ridiculous thought process and you determine which way you feel about his asinine action.

I was working as a Security Police Officer on a USAF installation, and although we were civilians and at the time not considered Sworn Officers (that would come later with a switch to DOD) we were given a whole lot of leeway by the local Police Departments. Hell, we wore uniforms that pretty much mirrored every other PD in the city and with the exception of the Base shoulder patch it was really hard to tell the difference. Even our badges were the same as our local counterparts. Looking back on it I think they gave us the latitude because of our affiliation with the Government, and Uncle Sam carries a big stick! Oh, the pay was pretty much on the same level with every other PD in the area, which didn't hurt.

As for the job, it was a cake walk. Hell, conducting a traffic stop on a military base can be dangerous but not nearly as bad as what the local Pd's dealt with. Yeah we had domestics and drunken drivers and such, but all in all it was a great place to work.

Getting back to the story line here, I was walking down the hallway past the admin offices on my way back to my patrol car and I overheard the the Chief on his phone and he wasn't happy. The part I caught was, "Hell no, we're not conducting a sting operation in that area or any area for that matter." He then ended the conversation with, "Arrest his ass, and confiscate his badge!"

I hurried out the door and jumped into my patrol car because when he finished that call I didn't want to be anywhere in the vicinity. Someone had really screwed up this time and the last thing I wanted was to get chewed out for someone elses stupidity.

I didn't think much more about it and the next day when I returned to work for briefing you probably could guess what the topic was? That's right, and the message was loud and clear. It is no longer permissible to carry your badge off duty!

Well this just sucked, that badge had gotten many of us into night clubs, strip joints and other places without having to pay a cover as well as gotten me for one out of at least two speeding tickets over the years. We had never really thought anything wrong with it. The key was to show it but do it with subtlety. You carry a badge holder that was also a wallet and therefore whenever you had to show ID, you removed the wallet and at the first sight of the badge it was, "Oh, don't worry about paying, come on in." Thank you very much!

After briefing I went up to one of the supervisors and inquired as to what exactly had led to this change in policy.

After laughing for a long while, and I mean a long while this is what he explained to me. One of the officers on his day off had taken his wife to the hair dresser. Knowing that she would be there for several hours he decided to drive around looking for something to occupy his time.

Now most of us in the department probably would have found the closest firing range and went in and sent a few down range (we all had concealed permits and most of us carried all the time).

Well not this guy, he wanted to send a few down range but not at the local range. He drives around and sees this woman standing on the corner and like an idiot he pulls over and she walks up to the car. She asks if he'd like a date and he agrees and she gets in the car. She points him to a alley where they can have some privacy and he does just that. However, as soon as he parks the car she reaches for what he thinks is condoms and instead she pulls out a badge! Now the car is surrounded by several other cops and she says, "Your under arrest for soliciting prostitution," without thinking (here I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt, because up until this time he really hasn't been thinking at all) he says to her, "No you're under arrest we're running a sting in this area to stop prostitution", and he pulls out his badge to prove it.

This was all about the time I was heading to my patrol car and the Chief was on the phone, because of course the PD had to check it all out to see if they could cut the guy some slack as well as show some professional courtesy. Unfortunately for the officer, or former officer the Chief wasn't trying to hear it.

Every time I think about this story I think to myself, "How in the hell do you get fired on your day off?"

Sunday, June 22, 2008

A strange security officer meeting

I accepted a position as Assistant Director of Security at a Mall on the Las Vegas Strip. I've been in security for quit awhile working my way up the ladder and although I've had many positions that were challenging, I knew from meeting the first officer at the property this would by far be my biggest challenge.
I pulled up into the parking garage and I called the Director on the phone to inform him that I had arrived. He however was stuck in typical Vegas traffic and informed me that he would be along shortly.
Being my first day I didn't want to enter the facility until he arrived to introduce me to the troops. I decided to stay in my car for awhile and wait for his arrival. After several minutes I figured I'd get out of the car and walk around the level of the garage I was on just to pass time. I was standing near the ledge of the floor looking out over East Las Vegas toward UNLV when a voice behind me stated, " It's not worth it, don't jump." I looked back to see a young officer from the property walking toward me. I immediately said that jumping had never occurred to me because life was way too precious to waste. He laughed and we quickly began a conversation.
I asked him how long he'd worked in security and he informed me that he had worked for this particular company for several years. Then without warning he went on to tell me how bad the company was and how he hadn't been given a pay increase for two years.
I asked him if he'd talked to the Director about the over site? He said that he had but he'd still not received one and that now it didn't matter because he and his brother were working on a sales business that he knew would get him out of security for good. I wished him well. He still had not asked, nor did he have any idea whom I was and since he was now on a negative roll I wasn't going to tell him anyway.
He continued on by telling me about his girlfriends, both past and present and how they had cheated on him and so on.
About ten minutes into this conversation I was beginning to second guess my acceptance of the position. I began to make excuses about waiting for my friend and I dropped hints that he should continue on his rounds but nothing seemed to work. He continued to talk and it began to wear on my nerves.
Finally I decided I had by this time enough so I began to walk back towards the sanctity of my car. I told the officer to take care and walked away. Wouldn't you know it, he followed me, talking the whole way.
By this time I'd heard how lousy the security department and company was, all the way to how lousy his girlfriend and former girlfriends were to how he'd once beat up a co-worker whom had made fun of him.
I politely got into my car, bid him farewell and started the engine. He stood there as if we weren't finished yet. In the end I had to put the vehicle in gear and drive away as if I were leaving the garage just to get away from him.
I finally settled for a spot on a different floor and although it made my walk to the Security Department a little further away it was worth it to get away from this officer.
A few minutes after I parked the Director called me and asked me to meet him on the floor I had just left. I went to meet him and I told him about my strange encounter with one of the officers and he was laughing so hard I thought he'd pass out. In the middle of the laughter the officer walks around the corner and sees me walking with the Director and he almost shit a brick. He quickly did an about face and scurried off in a different direction. The Director is still laughing and now he's laughing harder because he already knew whom I was talking about even before the officer changed directions right in front of us. The whole time I'm seriously wondering if I made the right career move. Could you blame me?
The next day I walked into the briefing room and introduced myself to the shift. The officer was there and he looked like he wanted to disappear. I explained how I was, how I operated, what I expected to happen over the next three months and how we would work together to get to know one another.
I then went on to explain how as Security officers we are always to remain professional while on the job. I told them it was not wise to air your company related issues to the general public and that to do so was in violation Company policy per their employee handbook. By this time the employee had that fight or flight look on his face.
I went on to explain that if they had issues with pay or vacation or whatever, for them to talk to their supervisor and if he couldn't work it out or explain it then he was to come and see me and together we would get the correct answer.
When I left the room I heard laughter which I expected because by then they had all probably heard the story of how the officer was out shooting of his mouth to the new Assistant Director.
I've been at the same location now for just under a year and a lot has changed. Stepping into the door there were nine supervisors, currently only two of the original supervisors remain. That's what generally happens when a new manager steps in and require that you actually earn your pay. People tend to quit. It's OK though, now other officer have been given the opportunity to step up and they've done a fine job.
The officer I met on my first day? He still works for the company, just not at his original location. He's now at a smaller location to eliminate the amounts of people he can interact with.
The job at this point is rewarding and now fun. It makes me laugh that on the first day I was questioning my decision. I'm really happy I'm here now.

Friday, April 11, 2008

"Observe and Report" in Stores Now

Security Specialist Tells All

For most of us, security is an area we know little about—yet one that impacts us all. Thanks to years of Hollywood stereotyping, security officers have been painted as uneducated slackers, incapable of obtaining a real job. The truth of the matter is that most of these disrespected “slackers” know more about security than your average police officer. Unless you work as a Security Officer, Detective, or in a law enforcement capacity, you might be shocked to learn the true challenges these underestimated professionals encounter on a daily basis.

“Through their words, you’ll hear about the drama, excitement, humor, horror, and, boredom, of working as a security officer.”

Decades of Security Observations

Michael Oden has seen it all. His more than twenty years of security observations, including Security Police training, Loss Prevention Detection, and security work have earned him the recognition he currently enjoys as an International Security Specialist. As a result of his overseas travels and extensive first-hand experience with law enforcement and security issues, Michael has acquired a unique perspective on what most of will never know—until now!

Observe and Report, the two words that all security officers learn the first day of training, is a comprehensive collection of real-life security stories that gives you a snapshot of reality as seen from the other side of the badge.

We need to look inside the lives of the men and women who work these amazing jobs and hear in their own words what it’s like to do what they do, so that the next time you see a security officer, as you walk to your car in the middle of the night, you just may decide to say, “Thank you.”

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Security Police – The Uniform Code of Military Justice
Security Guards – “Rent-a-Cop” vs. Armed Guard
Loss Prevention – The Hidden Side of Security
Hotel Security – Safety Away From Home
Contract Security – Bridging the Military Security Gap
Security Consultants – Alarming News About Alarm Companies

Security is more than just guarding. From weapons training to report writing, computer skills, interrogation, CCTV (Closed Circuit TV), and much more, the days your father spent as a night watchman, pacing back and forth to no end, are history. Michael Oden sheds light on the true side of security with Observe and Report.

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Saturday, March 1, 2008

A really Funny Security story

When you first start working for a guard company, they usually send you to different locations until they find one that fits you or one that they have trouble filling. Unfortunately, most time of the time, it’s the latter of the two.
During this moving period, you meet some cool people. I met a fat guy who worked with me at a gated community one night. He told me all about the company and the good places to ask to work on a permanent basis.
They had given me a schedule for the week. Each day was at a different location, so, I showed it to him and he looked it over. When he got to my fourth day, he told me he didn’t like that post because it was at a cemetery.
He told me the reason they had guards there overnight was, people would steal the flowers from the graves and then resell them. That’s pretty sad but there are some screwed up people in this world.
He also told me, on the property at the top of the hill, was a crematory, that the son of the guy who owned it was pretty much a wacko. He said the son had been seen driving by the guard shack with dead bodies sitting in the front seat, and that was why they had a hard time keeping permanent guards there.
By the time he finished his story, I was thinking I’d probably call in sick that day and leave it to someone else to work. Luckily for me, he told me that, at night, they always had two guards working, instead of one, like the day shift. Whew! That was a relief.
The day came for me to work at the cemetery and something told me to call in, but it was a new job and my girlfriend was on my case about being responsible. She also liked teasing me a little about being scared of ghosts and goblins. So, to prove her wrong, I went to work.
I pulled up to the post. It was well-lit so that made me a little more comfortable. Also, I thought I’d have someone to work with to make the time go by fast. I went into the guard shack and the first thing the guard on duty said was, the other guard had called in sick, so, I was going to be working there alone!
I couldn’t let this guy know that I wasn’t too happy about being at this cemetery all by myself all night. I couldn’t allow him to question my manhood. He gave me a quick post briefing and showed me everything I needed to know. Before he left, I started to feel a little better about the situation. Then, he informed me that the only person left on the premises was the son of the crematory owner and he’d probably leave in an hour or so. Damn, I’d gotten so comfortable I’d forgotten about him, now I’d have to worry about this wacko until he left.
Once the guard I relieved was gone, I turned on the radio and used the phone to call my girl. There was really nothing to do except to make sure no one entered the grounds until morning when the property opened for business. Since the post had been started a year earlier, flower thieves had to go elsewhere for merchandise.
About an hour into my shift, I heard a car start behind me. I stepped out and saw the headlights of the only car left turn on. The son was headed down the hill towards the gate and me. It’s amazing how much crazy stuff can go through your mind in a matter of seconds when you get a little scared.
The car came closer to the gate and I positioned myself in front of the guard house in the center of the median so I didn’t look nervous, and, also, I wasn’t too close to the lane where his car was. As soon as he neared the gate, he slowed down, and when he did, I thought he might say goodnight or something. When the car moved alongside the guard house, I looked inside and, I swear, all I saw was a female arm. He was pointing it at me.
I screamed like a little girl and hauled ass. I was running down the street and this guy was following me. I couldn’t get away fast enough; it was like a bad dream. There were no other cars coming. On one side, I had the cemetery and I damn sure was not going to climb the fence and run through there. So I went full speed down the side of the road.
I ran about a half mile until I was exhausted but this guy was still following me. Finally, I grabbed a big rock because I’d had enough. When he saw that rock, he stopped the car and opened the door. I bolted again. In the distance, I heard someone calling my name. When I finally got enough nerve to look back, I saw the son and thought he looked kind of familiar. He kept calling my name, and when I finally recognized his voice, I knew I’d been had.
There was no son, and the arm was a mannequin arm. The culprit was my fat co-worker from a few days before. I should have hit him with that rock. Come to find out, his uncle ran the crematory, and, three days a week, he worked for his uncle as a janitor cleaning up the place.
He was laughing so hard he couldn’t catch his breath, and I was so pissed I was wishing he’d have a heart attack. He had tears rolling down his cheeks and, after a while, I laughed too. On the way back, I was trying to figure out how I could keep his fat ass from ever telling anyone this story.
When we got back to the gate, the guard I relieved was standing at the gate and before we got out of the car, he, too, burst out laughing. I found out later that all new hires went through this ritual. In the end, it wasn’t so bad; hell, later, I helped set people up for their night at the cemetery.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Employee Theft And Loss Prevention Investigators

I had just started at a new company and was being introduced to everyone as they came into the store. Later in the morning, this guy, who worked in the men’s department, came back and struck up a conversation with me. It was cool and all, but, I’d been doing this too long to dismiss this as just a friendly guy. Later in the day, the same employee came by when I was on a break smoking a cigarette.
Where I come from, if you ever had employees who were overtly friendly or too inquisitive, you could pretty much bet your ass they were dirty.
After my break, I was watching the monitors with my new co-workers, doing a little studying on company’s policies and procedures when someone asked me, what I thought about the employees I’d met so far. Being me, I pretty much stayed neutral on all the employees, but I told them that I thought the guy from the men’s department was dirty.
Damn, you’d have thought I’d said the Pope was dirty. They all came to his defense, telling me how he was the best employee the store had and how he was the number one salesperson for the entire store.
It’s a sad day when LP personnel get too close to the very employees from whom they’re supposed to protect the assets of the company. Any LP agent from Wal-Mart to Saks is trained to know that 70% of the losses in his store are by way of employees. The best thing an officer can do is never get too close to anyone, not even the LP personnel working with you, because, one day, you may have to arrest that person too.
After the response I got for voicing my opinion, I backed off so I wouldn’t cause waves in my new job. Then, in a couple of months, something happened that none of us expected. The LP manager accepted a transfer to another store with the same company. When he left, he took with him the two officers that had been with him the longest, the lead investigator and a female investigator.
I’d been there a whole seven months before I took over the department and the new LP Manager told me to run the department the way I wanted.
I hired a new female and another male investigator and began to train them the way I had been trained. The other thing I did was, teach them how to do internal investigations. The outgoing crew did well when it came to external theft, but that was only a small portion of losses.
Most people who steal from stores are called opportunists. Basically, they see an opportunity and they seize it. That’s why it’s so easy to catch them and even if you don’t, they only come back occasionally so your losses are minimal. Now, you take an employee that decides to steal from you, it’s a big problem because he’s in your store everyday. They usually start off small and they grow in confidence. With that confidence, they can do a lot of damage in the amount of losses they cause.
We were having a LP meeting and I was explaining to the investigators that I needed them to start paying particular attention to several employees and keep a log of their activities. While saying this, I saw the employee I had suspected of being dirty my first day on the job. He was talking with this beautiful female; I remembered I’d seen them earlier when I was in the store. I again got that feeling that he was dirty. I stopped the meeting and informed them that I wanted them to watch him and her.
He started to ring up her merchandise and they talked as he did so. After ringing everything up, he began to put the items in a large plastic store bag. He placed all the items he’d just rung up in the bag. Then, he reached behind him and grabbed a box that contained women’s boots and placed them into the bag. The two investigators couldn’t believe their eyes. He’d just given her a pair of expensive boots without ringing them up and we’d captured the whole thing on tape. They asked if I was surprised. No, I’d been at this too long; nothing surprised me anymore. I rather expected it.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Selling Home Security Systems

I had an appointment with a wife and husband about installing a system in their new home. The couple had recently retired and moved to the city where I worked. When I arrived, another guy was getting out of his car. I figured that the couple was price shopping for a system.
Price shopping is not an exact science for security systems because companies do different things. Very seldom, do you actually get to compare apples to apples. The other salesperson arrived at the door at the same time I did. The couple let us in. Once they had identified which companies we belonged to, they informed him that he was late and would have to wait until I had completed my presentation before they could speak with him.
I couldn’t pass an opportunity to see my competition work, so I elected to allow him to give his presentation first. I didn’t have any other appointments to rush to anyway. They liked the idea, and, little did they know, so did I. The last thing you want, to be rushed because another salesperson is in the room. Worse still, when his time comes, he has the advantage because he knows what you’ve offered.
He began his presentation and conducted a short walk through of the home with the couple. He explained how he’d install a motion sensor in the living room and hall, because, in the event of a break-in, the suspects would make their way to the master bedroom, knowing that was where safes, jewelry and cash were usually kept. He also informed them that he’d install contacts on the three doors to the house, the garage entry door by the laundry room, the front door and the sliding glass door to the backyard.
When he was done with his little attempt at consulting, he informed them that the price was minimal, $199.99 for the install, and $24.99 per month for the monitoring of the system.
I looked at the body language of the couple and I really didn’t like what I saw. They were eating this up and price was what this was all about. I was sitting there with a proposal I’d written up for them based on the layout of the home provided to me by the builder, and the price for my system was a great deal more than what this other salesperson had offered.
Some guys fold at this point, but having been in the game for a while, I knew I couldn’t let this sale be about price. No way could I win at that game and I refused to even play it.
The first thing I did when the salesperson left was, eliminate the price of the system out of the equation. I did this by shaming them both for even thinking about it. I informed them that he had given quite a good performance, but it was ludicrous to think of securing a $300,000 dollar home with a system that cost less than the one in the Mercedes they had parked in the driveway. They looked at one another.
Furthermore, I informed them, I designed a system that protected more than a home, it protected the most valuable things, the items we cherished the most, ourselves. I finalized this by telling them that no security company could protect them and actually keep them safe for $199.99. It just wasn’t possible. I said, “You can get the system he proposed and hope you are safe, or you can purchase the system I designed specifically for you and this home, and know you are safe.”
With that, I handed them my typewritten proposal and thanked them for their time. I got into my car and laughed all the way down the road knowing they’d call soon. I had gotten approximately five miles away when my cell phone rang, and the husband asked, “When can you bring us a contract to sign?”
The proposal I’d left for them to read contained crime statistics for the area, a list of the clients that we serviced, and a breakdown of how our system actually worked. It also had a price of $1,800 for install and $35 per month for monitoring.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Fired for apprehending a innocent shopper

There are officers who take too many chances. Instead of seeing all the steps, they’d see one or two, and then they’d make the stop anyway. But eventually, your luck runs out on you.
We had a girl who went into the fitting room to watch a couple of females try on items. While walking out, she noticed another girl in a fitting cubicle, next to theirs, place a dress into her shopping bag.
Now, she thought she had something. When the girl came out, she followed her and when she exited the store, the officer arrested her.
She took the girl to the booking office and, the whole time, the girl was asking, “What the hell is going on?” When they got into the office, she told the girl to remove the dress she just stole while in the fitting room. The girl of course asked, “What dress?”
The officer reached into the bag and pulled out the dress she had seen the suspect place in the bag. Of course, the girl told her the dress belonged to her and that she was trying to match it to something else that she chose not to buy.
The officer became angry and basically chewed the girl out for being a liar. The girl started crying and said she wanted to call her dad. However, the officer was unrelenting. She started to book her for the theft, and because of the price of the dress, it would be a felony.
One of the LP managers walked by and saw this young girl crying, and although that was not uncommon, stopped into the booking office. The manager realized that, for some reason, this girl looked somewhat familiar.
The girl was still pleading to call her father, and since she was a juvenile, we had to contact a parent. The manager asked the girl’s name and when she blurted it out, the manager almost fainted. She stopped the booking process and removed the officer from the room, leaving the girl alone for a few minutes.
In the hallway, the manager asked if the agent had seen all the steps required in making the stop. The officer of course said yes, because even though she didn’t yet know why, she was smart enough to know her job was in danger.
The manager went back into the booking room alone. After a few minutes, the girl handed her the receipt for the dress from her purse. The officer watching through a two way mirror realized this was going to be a problem, but she still had no idea how large this problem was about to become. The manager exited the booking room to give the girl privacy to contact her father.
The manager looked at the officer and said, “Not only does the dress belong to her, but to make matters worse, her father is the vice president of the company that owns all the stores our company has.”
Months later, we were all sitting around clowning. Someone said, “Hey, remember so and so?” That’s what happens to you when you take chances. Months later, officers sit around and ask if anyone remembers you.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Drunk Hotel Guests

We were doing floor checks in the middle of the night. As we arrived on one floor, we saw a nude body lying on the ground at the other end of the hall. We were both thinking, “I hope this fucker isn’t dead”.
We got closer and could see that his chest was rising and falling with each breath, we both let out a sigh of relief. My co-worker walked over to one side and nudged the guy with his foot. The guy rolled over into another position. My friend nudged him a little bit harder and the guy rolled over again. You could smell the alcohol in the air. We figured he was a guest because his clothes were nowhere to be found.
My friend nudged the guy even harder, and, this time, the guy grabbed onto his leg and started laughing and screaming, “I got you, I got you!” My co-worker tried to get away, but, the guy was pretty strong and he was climbing up his leg, laughing the whole time. I was not sure what to do because there was no way I would grab this naked drunk man.
My co-worker dragged the guy down the hall as he held firm on to his leg. The guy was still screaming, “I got you, I got you”!
It was too funny. My co-worker finally got tired of it. He said, “Ok", "you fucker, you got me". "Now get the fuck off my leg!”
As soon as he said that, the guy woke up. Man, was he embarrassed. He was naked in the hallway wrapped around the leg of a security officer. After what seemed like a thousand apologies, we finally determined why he was in the hallway to begin with.
He’d been drinking in the room with his wife. When they’d run out of ice, he went to get some. He was so drunk he’d forgotten about getting dressed and he’d forgotten the ice bucket. When he realized this, he went back to what he thought was his room but his wife didn’t answer and he didn’t have a key. Being drunk, he figured the hallway was as good as any other place to crash and he did.
Later that night, I looked over to my co-worker and screamed, “I got you, I got you!” He got a kick out of that.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Watching shoplifters on my day off

The one major downside to working in asset protection or loss prevention is, you lose the urge to go shopping. You just don’t want to do it. On your day off, the last thing you want to do is go to a mall where people are shopping. My girlfriend does not even ask me to go shopping with her anymore. She says it’s too frustrating. She’s trying on clothes and I’m pointing out who’s stealing. It drives her nuts.
Also, I hate those little women’s stores, you know the ones that have two salesgirls working, and the store is three thousand square feet. They have these fake cameras and all these signs about prosecuting thieves. Yeah right. Who’s watching those cameras?
It had happened to me so many times with my girlfriend I could not take it anymore. We were in one of those stores and there was only one salesgirl, I guess the other was on her break. My girlfriend was in the fitting room and these two large black women were trying to get the salesgirl to go into the stock room to look for merchandise they knew the store did not have.
I could not take it anymore; I just blurted out that the store did not have the merchandise because the shipment would not arrive until the next weekend. I pulled out my badge and called the salesgirl by her name, which freaked her out (it was on her name tag), informed her that I had been sent to watch the store because of the losses. The two black women, as well as a couple of white women, saw that badge and headed straight out the door.
The sales clerk started to sweat because she really thought I had been sent by their corporate office, which told me she probably was ripping the store off too. My girlfriend came out, noticed the store was empty, and, immediately said, “What did you do?”
That was my last shopping trip with her. As for me, if the store I work for does not have it, I’ll order it online.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Working the Main gate on a USAF Base

When you first arrive on a new base, mostly, you do gate duties. It’s not that bad, but it can get pretty boring. Occasionally, something happens to break the boredom but those times are seldom.
When you’re on the main gate on the midnight shift, there are two of you. After I’d been there for a while, I got into how things worked. One person would sleep out of sight of anyone that might happen by, especially the flight chief who might stop by for a post check. We’d sleep two hours each and it made the shift go by smoother.
Every night at eleven o’clock, we’d start 100% ID checks. This basically means, anyone and everyone, except the base commander or some stray general who might come by, had to produce a military ID to be allowed access.
One night, I was at the main gate and my partner was getting his twenty winks, when a car approached the gate. When the driver got to me, she rolled down her window and I asked for her ID card. She looked at me funny and stated she didn’t have it with her. The car had a military decal from a nearby Army base, so I assumed she was either a soldier or a dependent.
She informed me that she didn’t have her driver’s license either. Then she told me that she was a soldier and that she and her husband had gotten into an argument, she’d grabbed her car keys, a towel, and, left home.
Up until that point, I hadn’t really taken a good look at her, but, with that statement, I did. Sure enough, she had a towel covering her. From the sides, all I could see was skin.
I instructed her to pull over to the visitors’ control center while I determined what to do next. She didn’t know, but I already knew what I was going to do. First thing was, I called the desk and requested they send all available units to take a look at this situation. Second, I went over and woke my partner so I could walk over to the visitor control center and get a better look myself.
I walked over as two units pulled up to the center and I briefed them. We went over and talked to her under the premise that we needed more information before we could let her on base. During all this, we made sure to shine our flashlights into the vehicle as much as possible. She got a kick out of all the attention she was receiving and that made things even more interesting.
In the end, she informed us that she was going to spend the night at one of her friends’ houses on our base and that was why she had come there.
I finally allowed her to go to her friend’s house, but, only if one of the units could follow her to make sure she was going there. She agreed.
When the unit returned, he said that she pointed out the house where she was going, but he told her he couldn’t leave until she went into the home. Finally, he said she exited the vehicle with much hesitation and ran naked to the door. She stood there for several minutes until a woman let her in. He complimented her figure, among other things, and we all had a good laugh.
The next night, the same girl returned to the gate. This time, she brought cookies, to thank us for allowing her to enter the base the night before.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

In the life of a Security Consultant

I got a call in the middle of the night and it was a customer that had almost his entire inventory stolen from his warehouse. I was half asleep and he was begging me to meet him at his location. Hell, he wasn’t even my client. On the way there, I thought to myself, “Why the hell is he calling me?”
I got there and it was a mess, cops everywhere. The suspects had driven a truck through one of his walls and, once inside, had loaded up everything in sight. He greeted me; he was on the verge of a breakdown. I felt sorry for the guy.
I had to ask him how he’d gotten my number and why he called me. He told me that the alarm company servicing his warehouse hadn’t even called to report the break-in. If it wasn’t for someone who had just happened by, seen the damage and contacted the police department, no one would have known he’d been broken into.
In his anger, he asked a police officer if he could recommend a security company to him, and although it was against Department policy, the cop felt sorry for him and gave him my number.
After the cops were gone, I stayed with the guy until his employees started showing up. Then, I went to my office and designed him the system that he really needed. While I was working on the design, another consultant came up to me. He informed me that, a year earlier, he’d met with the owner and informed him his system was inadequate. The guy wouldn’t budge because he said he had an agreement he couldn’t get out of.
It’s sad when someone thinks that because you have an agreement, you’re locked in, because, really, you’re not. As a consumer, you too have rights, and if your alarm company is not performing in the manner they guaranteed when you paid for the system, you can cancel the contract, for “Failure to Perform”.
Since he’d suffered such a huge loss, the installation manager agreed to have the system installed the same day, which made the customer very happy. I informed him that he could go home and rest, and that his business would be safe in our hands. He thanked me repeatedly and left.
A few months later, he called to thank me for the new system. It seemed that, earlier that morning, someone had attempted to gain entry into the building. Our company contacted the Police, who arrived on scene within three minutes, capturing the culprits in the act. The client was ecstatic; he now wondered when I could design a system to protect his most prized possession, his home and family.