Pricewatch Group says short-term security guards stop prolific offenders

Family-owned Pricewatch Group has found employing a temporary security guard highly effective against prolific shoplifters.

The forecourt business, which operates 10 sites in Sussex, had a particular problem at its Nisa Local outlet in Eastbourne’s old town.

The Esso petrol station was targeted weekly by two street drinkers who took over £600 of stock in a couple of months and worked collaboratively, arriving when they knew the shop would be busy.

They started by stealing laundry products, and then became more confident and took alcohol, fresh meat, and “anything with a resale value”, according to general manager Tom Buckley.

“At first we would just put one washing powder and softener on display at any time. But then they became quite brazen and started to steal items further into the shop,” he said.

Despite staff reporting the pair to police on over 20 different occasions, officers failed to show up.

So instead the business took matters into its own hands and started to employ a security guard from 6pm until the shop closed at 10pm.

“We wanted to reassure everyone in the shop, and, although it would be cheaper to let these people steal, hiring a security guard sends out a strong message and helps our staff feel less vulnerable,” said Tom.

After just two months the shoplifters have stopped coming. “A couple of times the security guard has taken items from them and now they seem to have got the message,” said Tom.

Tom now says he is now planning to replace the security guard with another member of staff, which will be more cost-effective as the extra employee will be able to work in the shop as well as providing another set of eyes.

He said that having a security guard present does have a downside. “It is not very nice for shoppers to be met by a guy dressed in black combat trousers, a stab vest and boots. It is not the best shopping experience and can put people on edge,” said Tom.

However, he will consider deploying a security guard at other sites if they show an expensive pattern of crime to break.

As for many other operators, crime is a rising problem for the business. Last weekend, for instance, its Selmeston Service Station at Polegate had a container unit broken into by four youths. The gang cut through three heavy duty padlocks and made off with a few hundred pounds worth of stock, mainly beer, Monster energy drinks, and crisps, half an hour after the shop closed at 10pm.

Despite clear CCTV footage showing the Saturday night incident and even the getaway car’s registration number, the police have failed to take it further and simply told Tom that he should keep overstock inside the premises.

“The longer they leave coming the more unlikely it is they will catch the group,” said Tom. “It also sends out a really bad message to our staff who already feel vulnerable and need to know that the police are behind them.

“Unfortunately, crime is massive for us. We have stories for most of our sites.”

Source – Forecourt Trader