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Group of Security Operators at Work Monitoring CCTV cameras
Elliott VerreaultMar 27, 2024 2:18:03 PM4 min read

Protecting Retailers & Consumers: Insights from the Retail Secure Conference

Last week, the city of Toronto hosted 2024's Retail Secure Conference, which brought together industry professionals and experts to explore the intricate world of retail security.

Against the backdrop of a staggering CAD $5 billion+ annual retail shrinkage problem, the event, organized by the Retail Council of Canada (RCC), served as a platform for organizations to understand the evolution of retail security and the potential solutions that are emerging to empower those entrusted with protecting retailers and consumers alike.

Key Themes and Trends in Retail Security

At the heart of the conference were dynamic discussions encompassing multifaceted challenges and innovative solutions within the realm of retail security.

From navigating workplace violence with empathy and resilience to forging strategic alliances between law enforcement, justice systems, and retailers, each session underscored the paramount importance of equipping protectors with better information and technology to combat crime effectively.

Notably, Dr. Larry Barton's discourse unveiled a concerning 18% surge in violent assaults within Canadian stores, reinforcing the urgent need for heightened vigilance and proactive measures among protectors nationwide.

Moreover, the evolving landscape of retail security has ushered in fresh challenges with the proliferation of online shopping and digital transactions.

Larry Barton talk at RCC 2024

Credits: Retail Council of Canada.

The surge in cyber threats, data breaches, and sophisticated fraud schemes underscores the critical need for protectors to stay informed and adapt swiftly to emerging threats.

Innovative Approaches to Combatting Retail Crime

A prevailing theme echoed throughout the conference was the imperative of embracing innovative strategies to combat theft and mitigate risks effectively.

Representatives from the Toronto Police Service spoke about Retail Crime not just being a property damage issue but a societal issue.

They noted that the police are quite strong at investigating crimes but could be better at preventing them. The solution? Sharing more information across the sector on repeat offenders and observable behavior patterns that lead to severe issues.

Peel Police's captivating session delved into the underreported yet financially crippling realm of cargo theft, unveiling staggering statistics and spotlighting the nexus between organized crime and stolen goods.

Detectives from Peel police giving a talk at RCC 2024

Credits: Retail Council of Canada.

The presenters, Detectives Mark Haywood and Steven Lancia, noted that cargo theft costs the Canadian economy as much as retail shrinkage every year.

Yet, it continues to be underreported, given logistics companies' fear of losing their insurance coverage.

As the third most crucial region for stolen vehicles in 2023 across North America, Peel is an interesting case study as a hotbed for cargo theft.

With 45% of national cargo going through the region (est. $1.8B per day), it has the highest cargo theft rates in Canada.

Stacked Cargo Containers

Seventy-two cargo thefts were reported in 2023, with a value of $6.9M (a 39% recovery rate). Add to this stolen tractor/trailers, and the value jumps to $29M.

Cargo theft and auto theft have been directly linked to organized crime, providing quick finance for drugs, weapons, and even human trafficking.

Interestingly, they pointed out that while the number of cargo theft cases has decreased in recent years, the value of goods stolen has remained relatively stable, suggesting that criminals are getting smarter and more efficient in their operations in the region.

After delivering fascinating stories from recent joint force operations, they shared with the audience that a high percentage of cargo theft cases investigated have internal (insider) participation at varying levels of involvement (from tips to active participation in theft).

At a different session, Brian Broadus, Loss Prevention Practice Lead for Solink, noted that organized retail crime (ORC) is “nothing but expanded internal theft. Most of the time [...] somebody is involved. You just have to figure out who.”

His suggestion? Eliminating blind spots, detecting anomalies, and leveraging technology to compensate for the reduction in workforce across most retail locations.

Harnessing Technology for Enhanced Security

Technology emerged as a key enabler in enhancing retail security, showcasing various innovations at the conference.

Advancements in surveillance systems were at the forefront of discussions, offering retailers new tools to bolster their security defenses.

From AI-powered surveillance cameras to hidden GPS trackers planted in boxes or cash, these technologies empower retailers to prevent and/or detect security threats proactively and facilitate recoveries when stolen.

AI powered surveillance camera mounted on wall

It was exciting to discuss with industry experts the potential for anonymous, privacy-compliant geolocation data to assist in detecting and investigating organized retail crime and cargo theft.

Practical tips for retailers to enhance their security posture were also shared during the conference.

Conducting regular risk assessments, developing comprehensive security strategies, investing in employee training, leveraging new technologies, and proactively sharing information with peers and law enforcement are crucial steps in effectively mitigating security risks.


Overall, this year's RCC conference provided invaluable insights and practical tools for effectively navigating the complexities of retail security.

From identifying emerging trends and challenges to exploring innovative technological solutions, the event fostered a deeper understanding of the industry's security landscape's multifaceted nature.

Amidst the insightful discussions at the Retail Secure Conference, AKTEK emphasizes the critical role of intelligence alongside technology in fortifying retail security.

As leaders entrusted with safeguarding retail operations, it's imperative to integrate cutting-edge technology with actionable intelligence to preempt security breaches and mitigate risks proactively.

Our recommendation to those overseeing retail security is to prioritize collaboration and information sharing among retailers, law enforcement agencies, and industry stakeholders.

By harnessing collective knowledge and resources, retailers can enhance their ability to anticipate, prevent, and respond effectively to security threats.

This proactive approach bolsters security measures and fosters a safer and healthier environment for businesses and consumers alike.

For more resources on the event, visit the RCC's site here.

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Elliott Verreault

I'm passionate about helping public and private sector organizations navigate fast-changing and hard to predict environments with powerful no-code information management software.