The National Association of Shoplifting Prevention reports that more than 13 billion dollars worth of merchandise is stolen from retailers each year. It is the duty of loss prevention officers to protect this merchandise by thwarting dishonest shoppers and employees. Unlike a security guard, who makes his presence known by wearing a uniform, the loss prevention officer employs covert techniques -- plus skill, expertise and luck -- to apprehend thieves and shoplifters.
Loss prevention officers are on constant lookout for suspicious behavior from both customers and employees. Sometimes known in the industry as “plain clothes detectives,” they covertly watch over operations on the floor, either in person or by monitoring activities on closed-circuit security cameras. They also keep an eye on places that only employees can access, such as stockrooms, back door areas and loading docks.
Although loss prevention officers do not have the ability to formally arrest anyone, they can apprehend shoplifters suspected of stealing and detain them for questioning. As an individual might flee or turn violent, most lost prevention officers seek support from their local police authorities whenever a shoplifter is caught and apprehended.