Open in App
Watchful Eye

VA ABC making moves to cut theft


VA ABC is on a mission to cut its losses from theft, and that focus includes stealing by the public and its employees.

VA ABC has already put some initiatives into motion and others are on the way.

Public theft in stores

VA ABC’s inventory losses are not even 1% of sales, and theft is only a portion of that. VA ABC acknowledges that the numbers are low compared to the overall retail market. They also admit that losses will likely never be eliminated.

Yet, a report from VA ABC says store workers are seeing more brazen shoplifting attempts. And, in some jurisdictions, there are large increases in larcenies, including in Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Newport News, and Richmond.

Aware that “public safety resources are stretched thin” so store workers can’t expect to just call the police, in some markets, VA ABC is focusing on CPTED principles, which aim to deter and reduce crime by focusing on a location’s design.

Further, VA ABC is teaching its employees to gather information that can be passed along to increase the chances of solving crimes after the fact. For example, VA ABC is adding height camera and height strips to stores. Height strips are markers that can be placed on a wall, door frame, etc. making it easier to get an idea of a person’s height.

VA ABC is also addressing theft by:

  • Adding staff and encouraging employee interaction with customers
  • Reducing the number of commonly taken items that displayed on shelves at once
  • Moving products to increase visibility
  • Reducing the amount of inventory held in stores
  • Adding cameras

Policing efforts

VA ABC is working on having police visit high-theft stores and to increase those visits at times when they find shoplifting is most common.

VA ABC has a Bureau of Law Enforcement, and those sworn officers are teaming up with local police for joint operations to go after suspects.

They had already executed 17 joint operations to apprehend retail larceny suspects in the first four months of 2023. Arrests were made in four of those efforts.

The report shows that VA ABC believes that even when they don’t arrest anyone, just conducting an operation deters theft.

Internal losses

During the pandemic VA ABC wasn’t conducting audits as frequently. Then, they switched to a new POS system, and the old audit protocols weren’t optimal. VA ABC realized that the transition created vulnerabilities. And that was on top of the fact they are already vulnerable to insiders because insiders know the internal processes.

But now, VA ABC has developed and tested a new audit process and is planning widescale store audits.

VA ABC is also more focused on finding vulnerabilities and sharing that information internally. In 2022, a district manager identified a vulnerability at Store 289. An enforcement agent started investigating the weakness that same day. About 2 months later, charges were pending against three Roanoke area employees.

Then, In February 2023, the weakness was reported at a different store. VA ABC eventually investigated 34 stores and found seven stores suffered theft because of that vulnerability. Six were still under investigation, as of the end of May.

VA ABC has enhanced its reporting and tracking and is setting things up so numbers can be tracked on location-by-location basis.

Also, in FY24, which starts in July, VA ABC has budgeted for two loss prevention staffers whose job will be focusing on establishing a loss prevention strategy, developing processes, and initiating monitoring activities.


Like this story? Help us keep the community informed by clicking to directly support the Watchful Eye, an independent, local news channel.

Any and all is appreciated!

Follow the Watchful Eye on Twitter and Facebook to keep up with what's happening in Virginia!

Did You See: Virginia Issuing SNAP Benefits for Students This Summer?

Expand All
Comments / 0
Add a Comment

Comments / 0