Arresting people is a risky process. Removing a persons freedom carries a lot of responsibility to make sure that the security guard has made the arrest lawfully and safely. In Melbourne it is a requirement that all security guards understand the legal powers of arrest because they don't have the same powers as Police.
For a security guard to decide to arrest a person for shoplifting they need to ensure that certain evidence is obtained and protected during the arrest. Listed below are the standard key actions for security guards to witness for the arrest to be made lawfully.
The security guard sees the person select the item being stolen and take possession of the item. This is commonly known as finds committing and the security guard must see the selection themselves. An arrest cannot be made by the security officer on the words or advice of anybody else.
Normally the offender will try and conceal the item on their person or in a carrying device so they can leave the store without it being noticed. By concealing it the person has shown an intention that they will not pay for the item and the excuse of forgot to pay will not carry much evidence in their defense.
The item has a value
You cannot steal something that is free or given to them by the owner of the item. This is why it is important to ask the suspected shoplifter if anybody gave them permission to take the item. Their response should be recorded in your notebook for use as evidence.
Go past the last point of purchase
Even if a suspect has taken an item and concealed it on their person, it still is not theft at this time. You must give the person every opportunity to pay for the item. This means that you have to keep them under surveillance until they have gone past all chances to pay for the item. I recommend giving them at least a 5 metre distance past the last purchase point so they cant say they just forgot to pay and suddenly turn back to pay.
Leave the store
Even with all this required by security guards it is still a requirement that the offender actually leaves the store so that it is clear that no attempt was made to pay for the item and they have in fact attempted to leave. Again I recommend a 5-7 metre distance across the store visible lease line so that any defense they have is weakened and yor evidence is stronger.
Continual surveillance is what ties of this evidence together and is the most difficult part of being a security guard. Usually you are in uniform and somehow you have to follow the shoplifter through the store without losing eye contact at any time and not get seen by them. This is the reason why most shoplifters get away with the theft. You need to maintain eye contact so you can see if the offender drops or passes the item to their friends. If you arrest them without the item in their possession, you have a hard time proving that they were stealing items.
About the author;
Having protected a wide range of clients over Australia in the last 20 years as a specialist security professional I have developed extensive experience in corporate security, investigations, executive protection and risk management strategies.
Combined with my military service I protect those clients that want the best security service
Mr. Paul Baker
Manager Corcom Security Services
(03) 9642 0599
Click here for security guards or security courses.
Qualifications in Security Risk management, investigations, and executive protection.
Instrumental in preventing or reducing crime statistics across a wide range of industries with practical experience learned from the front lines of security over twenty years of service.
Level 6 388
(03) 9642 0599