Not a single day goes by without an email coming in to our task force office about a large-scale liquor theft. Every time, I notice that it’s a retailer who isn’t using the bottle lock for liquor bottle security. Liquor and wine is a market that generates a lot of revenue on its own, along with incremental sales on snacks and soft drinks to go with the liquor. With those increased sales, comes increased shrink exposure. As a team leader for a regional Organized Retail Crime task force, I see the struggle against liquor shrink every day. Our first effort is to help retailers stem the loss by preventative measures and liquor bottle security. The first thing we do is recommend the bottle lock. It’s a simple but highly effective device that makes the merchandise less attractive and usable to both the professional and amateur shoplifter. The technology fits over the top of the bottle and keeps anyone who did not purchase the bottle from opening it. Only the key can remove it. The bottle lock works with existing EAS systems or can be a stand-alone item, just providing physical benefit denial.
At the conclusion of one particularly large investigation, we interviewed the suspects to help us figure out how to better prevent the losses. They told us that when selecting a store to target, the first thing they looked for was the bottle lock. If it was in place at a particular store, they would move on to another location. That speaks volumes about its effectiveness for liquor bottle security. They told us that the first time they tried to defeat one inside the store, the bottle burst and the liquor went everywhere. While the store still had a loss on the damaged bottle, they didn’t lose 10-15 bottles, which was the average this group hit for. Fencing locations are unlikely to buy bottles with that are brought in by the bad guys because the fence wants to avoid getting caught. How easy is it to prove that he purchased stolen merchandise when it came in with a theft prevention device still attached?
What the area retailers also discovered was an unexpected side benefit…the reduction in losses due to juvenile shoplifters opening bottles and pouring the contents into their water bottle or other container. Not only did this reduce shrink, but it also reduced some liability for inadvertently providing minors access to alcohol. One of the initial concerns our local stores had was an increase in time it would take to process a transaction when the clerk had to remove the Bottle lock. As long as the key is at the register, we found that it had a negligible effect on transaction time.
The concern we had as an investigative team was security of the keys. The keys come attached to a lanyard. That lanyard can be screwed right into the counter under the register, keeping it secure and out of sight. We have not had any keys compromised locally. Also, to help in this regard, we talked to the prosecutor’s office and they agreed that unauthorized possession of a key would subject the bad guys to a charge of possession of burglar’s tools, a felony, and defeating a theft detection device, a misdemeanor. That’s a strong piece of preventative information.
Locally, the tough fight against the organized, large-scale theft of liquor from our local businesses has been made much easier by the individual stores using the bottle lock. It’s a great tool for any size store.
For more information about bottle lock contact us or call 1.866.914.2567.