A midwestern grocery chain has introduced its own in-house armed security team to act as a “visual deterrent” and manage in-store disturbances in a bid to curb retail theft.
Hy-Vee, in a statement last week, said it would hire its own in-house retail security team after working with third-party security contractors or off duty law enforcement for a long time.
“The goal with this team is to create a consistent look for the security team and consistent approach to customer service and security across all of stores,” it said.
Jamie Sipes, Hy-Vee’s head of security, told NBC-affiliated news network KY3 that “we are really a visual deterrent to criminal activity and violence.”
“We’re there to be an extension of our legendary customer service within Hy-Vee to ensure the safety of our customers and our employees,” Mr Sipes added.
The security team, consisting mostly of former law enforcement officers, will reportedly be armed with tasers and pistols.
Members of the security team will be specially trained to “defuse situations” and “equipped to protect” both customers and employees, the company said.
Some of the members have already been deployed in several stores, while more officers are completing the security training programme.
The Covid pandemic has fuelled shoplifting and organised retail crimes in the US.
According to the National Retail Federation’s “2021 Retail Security Survey”, there was a 57 per cent hike in organised crime and a 50 per cent rise in shoplifting in 2020.
Hy-Vee is present in more than 285 locations across the midwest.
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