I’ve just been reading several online news reports about liquor theft rings. There are some extremely high dollar thefts that have taken place. Some involve the theft of an entire delivery trailer load and others are rings hitting grocery stores and liquor stores. In A New York Post report about a liquor store heist, the owner estimated that the robbers ultimately made off with “between $45,000 and $50,000,” “nearly 100 cases, in high-end booze,” (Kevin Sheehan, January 28, 2014). In a 2013 article from King 5 titled, “Grocery stores go undercover to bust liquor store thieves” they discussed the problems faced by a grocery store from liquor theft. It also discussed how the merchandise is stolen by boosters and how it is resold. A part of the article that I found compelling and I want to address is a statement made by a member of the store security team investigating theft rings in his store. The article says, “…and some may wonder why grocery stores don’t just lock their liquor up or keep bottles in a separate, more secure part of the store where workers can watch it more closely.” The Security Officer or representative states, “It is a difficult balance…You can remove it from the shelf and turn customers away. You put too much product on the shelf and you are exposing yourself to theft.” (This story aired on Nov. 4, 2013). This is where I would like to take issue and address bottle security. Grocery stores and liquor stores can prevent a significant amount of the theft that is taking place by using bottle locks on their products.
The Loss Prevention representative seems to give an either/or solution to the problem. As I read the article, the response to the posed question seems to be one that would either limit product and quantity on the shelf or it would remove it altogether. I am willing to give the benefit of the doubt that the interviewee was not giving the same full response that he might have under different circumstances. Regardless, the answer is there, and I would like to offer an alternate solution. I believe stores could use bottle locks on their product to secure them from theft. Bottle locks come in a number of options and styles. For example, Alpha security offers everything from an adjustable collar lock which fits around the neck of a bottle to a bottle lock that covers the entire cap and prevents tampering with the seal and the cap. All of these bottle locks will activate an electronic article surveillance antenna at the exits and entrances of a store. Generally, boosters do not tend to intentionally steal product that is obviously protected with anti-theft devices. They are in it for the fast buck, so they prefer to get away without being noticed. This allows the booster to hit a store multiple times.
When a store uses Alpha security products customers will not “turn away” as the Loss Prevention officer indicates, because shelves don’t have to be empty. Bottle locks give the store the flexibility to allow customers access to product and ability to select the item(s) they want and continue to shop. Hiding bottles in purses, backpacks or even luggage will not prevent the activation of EAS alarm systems. The flip side of his argument is also negated if bottle security is employed on liquor and wine. Because a bottle has a lock on it, I would argue the shelf can be fully stocked. The deterrence value of the lock and the alarm capability will send the thieves to other stores. One additional quasi-question was posed by the writer or interviewer, asking why the alcohol could not be put in a more secure part of the store. My response would have to be that keeping merchandise in a specific area that is a “secured” environment turns off customers and also requires more manpower. Bottle security allows the free movement of merchandise in the store and the design makes it very difficult to defeat.
There is no need for keeping shelves bare or locking up wines and spirits in some cabinet or remote area of your store. Alpha security has the necessary products to secure your bottles so that you can keep your customers happy and deter the thieves who would steal your profits.
For more information on Bottle Security, contact us or call 1.866.914.2567