C-store CIOs See Crime Rising as Economy Sinks

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C-store CIOs See Crime Rising as Economy Sinks

It's a well-known fact that a depressed economy corresponds to higher crime rates, which is why security and loss prevention is more important than ever for retailers these days.

Loss prevention has been a focus for Texas-based Love's Travel Stops over the last 10 years, and as a result, the company's losses are low. "Loss prevention is like a dart board, it just depends where you throw the dart," said CIO Jim Xenos. "You target one place at a time."

Love's latest target is on credit-card fraud. Since the economy started to worsen, the chain has been experiencing a worrisome increase in credit-card fraud at its stores. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is involved in trying to stop these crimes, but Xenos said credit-card fraud is an extremely difficult thing to combat.

"You can go on the Internet and buy credit card account numbers right now. [Thieves] use these numbers to create valid cards and use these cards to purchase fuel at the dispensers," he said.

Aside from credit-card fraud, decreasing shrink was another target for retailers at the roundtable. David Caudill, CIO of Kentucky-based Thorntons Inc., said his company is changing its inventory model to better control losses, going to 14 different product categories and getting lower level in its UPCs. The chain's stores now have the ability to monitor their beginning and ending inventories in smaller categories to help identify issues quicker.

Cumberland Farms is also driving down to a more detailed level for its in-store inventory management in hopes that greater transparency and controls will lead to reduced shrink, among other benefits, said Dave Banks of the Northeast-based retailer.

Overall, convenience operators are doing a good job of deterring crime, said Valero CIO Cheryl Thomas. "When you look at a camera recording today, you can tell who the person is and most c-stores use cameras," she said. "There are a lot of other places to steal from now where there isn't the same investment in oversight and enforcement as there is in c-stores."