two guards speak on a radio

Listen Wincon Security Director of Operations, Sunil Subramanian, on CBC Radio discuss the rampant shoplifting attempts happening today.


In the ever-evolving world of retail, ensuring a seamless shopping experience for customers is of utmost importance. However, amidst this pursuit, one significant challenge retailers face is shoplifting – a pervasive issue that can dent profits and affect the overall shopping environment. Today, we delve into the world of loss prevention with Sunil Subramanian, Director of Operations at Wincon Security and Investigations, a prominent security services provider to retailers, to gain insights into their impactful work in safeguarding businesses against theft.

Unveiling the Retail Theft Landscape

Shoplifting can encompass various forms, and Sunil Subramanian sheds light on the most commonly stolen items at stores served by Wincon Security. These items often include meat products, baby formula, razors, vitamins, batteries, and other small, easily concealable goods. By identifying such patterns, Wincon Security crafts tailored strategies to combat theft, mitigating financial losses for their clients.

  • Commonly stolen items include:
    • Meat products
    • Baby formula
    • Razors
    • Vitamins
    • Batteries
  • Wincon Security identifies theft patterns to craft tailored strategies for clients.

The Diversity of Shoplifters

Understanding the motives behind shoplifting is crucial in combating this issue effectively. Sunil explains that shoplifters come from diverse backgrounds, and their reasons for theft vary significantly. Some individuals resort to stealing out of necessity, facing hardships such as unemployment, financial struggles, or mental health issues. On the other end of the spectrum, organized retail crime involves orchestrated thefts of large quantities of merchandise. Wincon Security acknowledges this spectrum and employs comprehensive approaches to handle each situation with precision.

Wincon Security’s Loss Prevention Team

To combat shoplifting effectively, Wincon Security employs two categories of workers for their clients: loss prevention officers in plain clothes and uniformed security guards. The plainclothes officers discreetly observe suspects and follow the SCOPE approach, which stands for Selection, Concealment, Observation, Pass Point of Sale, and Exit Point, before making an arrest. On the other hand, uniformed guards serve as visible deterrents, deterring potential shoplifters from attempting theft in the first place.

The Importance of Safety

While well-intentioned bystanders may sometimes attempt to intervene during shoplifting incidents, Sunil Subramanian advises against putting oneself in harm’s way. Wincon Security ensures their security staff receives extensive training to handle such situations professionally and safely. Prioritizing safety not only protects bystanders but also helps maintain a secure shopping environment for everyone.

Balancing Mitigation and Customer Experience

A caller’s concern about being wrongly accused of shoplifting highlights the importance of striking a balance between loss mitigation and customer experience. Sunil urges patience with security measures, emphasizing that in the long run, effective loss prevention benefits both retailers and customers alike. Reduced theft levels lead to decreased inventory costs, potentially resulting in more competitive pricing and a better shopping experience for consumers.

The Impact of Wincon Security’s Efforts

Wincon Security’s commitment to effective loss prevention has yielded positive results for their clients. By crafting the perfect formula for each retailer, they help reduce shoplifting incidents and protect businesses against financial losses. Emphasizing the importance of visual deterrents, Wincon Security encourages their clients to invest in uniformed security guards, enhancing their overall loss prevention strategy.

In conclusion, Wincon Security’s expertise in loss prevention serves as a beacon of hope for retailers seeking to secure their premises and assets. By tailoring solutions to fit each client’s unique needs, the company contributes to a safer shopping environment while fostering trust between businesses and their customers. As retail landscapes continue to evolve, Wincon Security remains at the forefront, steadfast in their mission to safeguard the retail industry from the pervasive issue of shoplifting.

See the transcript

Ian Hanomansing
So we’re here to talk about the shopping experience, but we’re spending a lot of time talking about one part of that experience, which is shoplifting. Our next guest knows a lot about that. Sunil Subramanian specializes in loss prevention. He is the Director of Operations at Wincon Security and Investigations, a major provider of security services to retailers, and he joins us now from Toronto. Sunil, how are you?

Sunil Subramanian
Good, and yourself?

Ian Hanomansing
Good. Thank you very much for joining us. Tell us a little bit about, in your experience working with various retailers, and I know you won’t mention them by name, I appreciate that, but what sorts of things are getting stolen the most at the stores that are run by your clients?

Sunil Subramanian
As you said, there’s various retailers, but when it comes to the theft that’s occurring, we see a lot of loss when it comes to meat products, baby formula, razors, vitamins, batteries, things of that nature, things that you can quickly conceal and get away with.

Ian Hanomansing
Is there any profile of the typical shoplifter? Is it out of necessity that people are shoplifting in order to get just food on their table? Are people part of trying to make money from the products they’re selling? What are you seeing?

Sunil Subramanian
It’s a very broad spectrum. I mean, we’re dealing with people coming out of COVID, loss of employment, loss of income, being forced to take these measures, people dealing with mental health issues, obviously, people with drug abuse, homelessness. But on the flip side of that, we obviously have the organized retail crime that comes in and takes out large quantities as well.

Ian Hanomansing
You have working for your clients through your company at least two categories of workers. You have people who are loss prevention officers in plain clothes, walking through a store, through the aisles. I believe you also have uniform security guards that are there to be visible. When they, either one, spots what they believe is shoplifting in progress, how do they respond to it?

Sunil Subramanian
Again, it varies. When you have the last prevention Guard that is not in uniform, they have a process that they have to follow in order to go through with an arrest. The acronym we use is called SCOPE. That stands for Selection, Concealment, Observation, Pass Point of Sale, and then Pass Point of the Exit Point. Once those five steps have been observed throughout without missing any one point, we are then able to complete the arrest. When it comes to the uniform aspect of it, it’s not as complicated because it doesn’t happen as often. Uniform guards deal more with smash and run, grab and run issues where people know that there’s uniform guards there. They just don’t care anymore. They’re pretty brazen. They’re just trying to get away as fast as possible and run and get away.

Ian Hanomansing
We had a caller earlier this hour, a man in his 60s, or I think he was in his 60s at the time, who saw somebody shoplifting at a store here in Vancouver. There was a security guard who I guess wasn’t intervening. There were a couple of shopkeepers who looked scared. He stood there and refused to let the shoplifter leave. The shoplifter bumped him and the guy stood his ground. I think I know how you’re going to answer this, but what would you say to that bystander who intervened?

Sunil Subramanian
I did watch that segment as well. I appreciate what he did, especially because he had the last pension background as well, but there’s no real reason to put your life in danger for a scenario like that. We don’t know the individuals that we’re dealing with. Our security staff go through do extensive training to be able to deal with people that are committing theft for one reason or another, whether it’s mental health or homelessness culture and things of that nature. But again, as you said to him, maybe not put yourself in harm s way for the sake of a couple of dollars.

Ian Hanomansing
And Sunil, let me ask you about another caller, the woman from I think maybe Edmonton, who said that twice in her life, and she sounds like an older woman, she talked about remembering the grand old days of the department stores in Vancouver, but twice, she was confronted in high end stores by security guards who each time demanded that she open up her purse and empty out the contents because they thought she was stealing. The way she tells the story, she wasn’t stealing. They found nothing. What would you say to her about her experience?

Sunil Subramanian
I apologize that she had a negative experience for whichever retail store she was at, but I do believe in the process process. I think people need to be a little bit patient with it. Look at it from the aspect of maybe it’s not the implication of theft, but more of a mitigation of theft, which in the long run is only going to benefit us. If we’re patient with the process and theft levels come down, inventory pricing is going to go down as well. With the way inflation is right now, that again is only going to benefit all of us in the long run.

Ian Hanomansing
Is it working, the efforts of your company and the clients they hire, does it make a difference? Does it reduce shoplifting?

Sunil Subramanian
It does. It depends on… We have to find the perfect formula, which is what we work on with our clients. We’re trying to push now because of the procedures that are being put in place where you can’t do receipt checks right now, or you can’t do bag checks, there’s no touch policies, there’s things of that nature. We’re encouraging our client base to move towards the uniform from security guard, which is more of a visual deterrent. They can be placed at the entry exit point of your store so people can see them right away. They can be patrolling the point of sale areas so people know they can’t just run straight through and get through. We are encouraging the industry to move in that direction, so as to mitigate more loss. Last but not least.

Ian Hanomansing
Saneel, thank you very much for your insights. Really interesting talking to you.

Sunil Subramanian
You’re welcome. Thanks for having me.

Ian Hanomansing
Saneel Sobranian specializes in loss prevention. He’s a director of operations at Windcon Security and Investigations, a major provider of security services to retailers. He is in Toronto.