Loss prevention products, used to try to discourage or catch theft in business settings, include a range of items designed for retail stores, corporate operations, general security firms, and the financial services industry. Burgeoning technological advances in the 21st century have contributed significantly to the development of innovative and effective loss solutions. It is a reality of business operations, however, that any security product or system can eventually be circumvented by motivated thieves. This drives the need for the continuous advancement of new loss prevention products to stay ahead of criminal ingenuity.
People staff the loss prevention industry, but the special products designed to control theft are the real workhorses. In many venues, 80 percent or more of theft deterrence is provided by technology rather than direct human surveillance. Historically, the retail industry has experienced the most aggressive introduction of products because of the ongoing opportunities for theft by employees and customers. Early product solutions to prevent shoplifting included mounting mirrors at strategic locations to provide better lines of sight and surveillance cameras.
Another popular product in retail is the electronic sensor tag that sets off an alarm if someone tries to leave the store with merchandise without having the tag removed by a cashier. Ink tags are a variant that stains the merchandise if not properly removed. Sensor tags are an example of a loss prevention product that has been adapted over time to stay ahead of thieves. Certain types of merchandise have sensor tags on the interior of the product packaging rather than the exterior to make it impossible for a thief to remove it. This type of tag is a magnetized sticker that has to be deactivated before it leaves the store.
On the employee side in retail, loss prevention products include complex point of sale systems that make theft of money difficult. Camera surveillance has progressed to the point where the equipment is camouflaged, records to a computer instead of tape, and is just as likely to be focused on employees as customers. Sophisticated alarm systems make it impossible for any employee to be in the store alone, and computerized safes that only open under certain circumstances prevent employees from accessing large sums of money.
In corporate settings, loss prevention products include specialized software that tracks employee computer usage. Other types of software flag suspicious transactions entered into accounting systems. Bag scanners are often used to control entrances and exits from a building and to make sure employees are not leaving with unauthorized material, while motion detectors and other types of alarms prevent employees from returning after hours.