Technology has always been a real passion of mine. Using technology to increase efficiencies has been one area that I’ve been particularly fascinated by and something I’ve strived to do for a large part of my career. Recently with the help of my good friend Brian Ashton I have been able to do just that for retailer and loss prevention professionals across the nation.
In 2010 a mutual friend of ours, who works in retail loss prevention management told us the story of a distraught mother who had contacted him on behalf of her son. Her son served in the military and was recently promoted to platoon leader. Unfortunately, he had stolen a fishing lure, that couldn’t have been worth more than $20, from our friend’s store. The mother pled with our friend to not press charges against her son for this mistake. If they were to press charges, then her son’s promising military career would be over. Not only that, he would face an uphill battle in every background check for the rest of his life. All for a $20 fishing lure. Although our friend felt for this mother and her son he told her “I have no other option. Our policy is to turn every shoplifting case over to law enforcement and press charges. I can’t give preferential treatment to one person over another.” This one decision would impact this man and his family for decades to come.
We thought…there has to be a better way.
Theft is a huge problem for retailers, law enforcement and the offenders. Retailers devote millions in resources to fight it. Police officers have to divert countless hours that could be used on more troubling community issues to respond to a call for a $10 theft. But more importantly, offenders have to continually pay the price for a simple mistake that could be more than a decade old.
We had heard of programs that hoped to divert shoplifters, but they all came into play after law enforcement was involved. To us, that felt like a waste of taxpayer dollars. Our program had to be different.
Technology became the obvious solution. How could we use it to help these people: the offenders, law enforcement and retail professionals, and communities as a whole? If we were going to make an impact it became apparent our solution would have to contain three key elements:
One, it had to be more efficient for everyone in the process, from the retailer, to the law enforcement officers to the offender, this had to be a streamlined process. This could easily be accomplished through the use of technology.
Two, we needed an education program that actually worked. It had to provide a lasting impact on the student so they would change their behavior. By basing our program on proven behavior therapy methods and providing engaged learning through interactive exercises on a simple to use platform we knew we could accomplish this.
Three, it must adapt and comply with state and local laws in each area where it is implemented. Our goal was to benefit the community, so working with local law enforcement and prosecutors and abiding by the statutes in each state would be critical to our success.
In the five years since our launch, we have worked diligently to serve our retail customers and our program participants/students/offenders. Law enforcement agencies have also noticed our impact – seeing as much as a 40 percent drop in the number of calls for service in their communities. This allows their police officers to spend more time in the community. We are enabling people to learn good habits and, in so doing, to change their lives. That makes us incredibly proud to be on this journey. We invite you to join us. If you have questions, please feel free to reach out to us.
About CEC: CEC is a leader in restorative justice, occupying a unique niche in the loss prevention market.
CEC's program enables first-time offenders to correct their mistakes and avoid prosecution. Retailers can reallocate loss prevention resources and law enforcement can focus their efforts in more effective ways for their individual communities. CEC works with individuals, retailers, law enforcement, prosecutors and parents to provide a successful, equitable and more efficient alternative to judicial prosecution. We are changing lives, making communities safer and restoring confidence between private and public sectors. www.correctiveeducation.com