How To Become a Store Detective

You don’t need to study rocket science to be a store detective, though a background in security services or law enforcement experience does help, especially if you want to work for large malls or shopping centers where security and loss prevention services are provided by building management or large security companies. Read this article to find out how to become a store detective.

Job description
Depending on the location and size of store, a store detective be required to walk around the store in plain clothes, watching out for suspicious activities and/or people; alternatively man security cameras and monitor the entire store layout from various angles. It is also the store detective’s job to apprehend shoplifters or other mischief-makers and hold them in custody until local law enforcement officers arrive and take over. The store detective also prepares reports of suspected or actual incidents of store thefts and helps the police in carrying out the subsequent investigation. Store detectives are also referred to as ‘loss prevention agents or officers’. In brief, the job of a store detective can be summarized as follows:

  • Protect assets of the store/boutique/mall/shopping center/hotel where they are employed, from theft, damage or willful destruction;
  • Keep an eye out for suspicious customers, store and other vendor employees, or anyone with access to the store;
  • Regularly inspect stock/warehouse areas, public/employee facilities such as rest rooms, lockers, etc;
  • Prepare reports on a periodic basis with respect to theft, shoplifting or employee fraud and provide assistance and testimony for the prosecution when perpetrators are arrested or detained.

There are no specific mandatory educational requirements, in many instances, a high school diploma with work experience or a background in the military or law enforcement will suffice. But if you plan on working for a large chain of stores or a shopping mall, then an associate or bachelor degree with additional training in security and loss prevention techniques, fraud control, technology, management/administration and customer service is preferable.

Career prospects
A store detective’s job is not a position with high pay scales; most are paid hourly wages and may not have a full-time job, especially when working with small stores or individual boutiques. Prospects are slightly better if you are an employee of a security company, the bigger the better. Average salaries for such employees range between $30,000 and $50,000, employees in supervisory or managerial positions may be higher.

At present, there are no uniform licensing requirements to become a store detective, though certain states mandate some licensing requirements, usually a mix of some level of investigations experience, a high school diploma, clearing background and security checks and passing an examination.

Above all, a store detective should be physically fit, sharp, alert and intuitive, preempting thefts or other misdemeanors, with ‘prevention’ being the operative word.


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