It was a challenging weekend for retail loss prevention professionals.
In the run-up to one of the busiest and often most successful times of year for retailers, there are still distressing reminders of dangerous situations retail employees can face on an all-too-regular basis. Unfortunately, two separate incidents from this last weekend provided such reminders.
On Sunday, a loss prevention associate working for Weis Markets in East Lampeter, Pa., was shot in the parking lot while attempting to apprehend two retail theft suspects. One of the suspects was taken into custody and the other still remains at large. The LP associate, Brian Fantom, was working a shift Sunday afternoon when he spotted two apparent shoplifters and followed them to the parking lot. One of the suspects pulled a handgun, pistol-whipped him on the head several times and then shot him. Watch the video below, which has more information about the crime.
Also on Sunday, during a police investigation into three men suspected of organized retail crime in Orlando, Fla., a suspect used a stolen van to ram an unmarked police car in the parking lot of a Target store. Two officers opened fire, critically injuring one suspect. The two other suspects were booked into Orange County jail on charges including grand theft and fraudulent use of personal identification information.
In the Orlando case, the suspects were allegedly stealing credit cards from LA Fitness and purchasing electronics from various stores.
According to news reports, dozens of shoppers were in the parking lot when officers opened fire. Orlando police said it’s not an ideal situation, but when an officer feels their life is in danger, that is when they use deadly force. The decision to confront someone committing a crime is never taken lightly, and we appreciate the difficult work of law enforcement professionals, in particular these officers in Orlando.
Retail criminals know that if they are apprehended they face arrest, prosecution, bail and even jail. Oftentimes, they will stop at nothing to steal merchandise and keep from getting caught. Unfortunately, some of these crimes are committed through acts of violence and can endanger the lives of others.
Both incidents serve as a reminder to retail associates about personal safety while performing loss prevention functions. Store associates and LP staff should carefully follow their company policy and always exercise good common sense before approaching people who may be stealing.