Store detective

Store detective article illustration


Store detectives monitor the activities in the store in order to prevent and detect shoplifting. Once the individual is caught red-handed, they take all the legal measures, including announcing the police.

Store detectives typically perform the following duties:

  • follow shoppers or staff who behave suspiciously
  • call the police to describe what you’ve seen
  • take evidence from witnesses
  • write short reports
  • give evidence in court
  • prevent anyone trying to leave the store with stolen goods

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to store detective:

loss prevention agent
retail loss investigator
asset protection officer
loss prevention officer

Minimum qualifications

A high school diploma or equivalent is generally the minimum required to work as a store detective. Additionally, a good fitness level is often a prerequisite. Some employers may perform enhanced background checks before hiring store detectives.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Store detective is a Skill level 3 occupation.

Store detective career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to store detective.

hand luggage inspector
private detective
police detective
police inspector
court bailiff

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of store detective. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of store detective with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

artillery officer
armed forces officer
aviation surveillance and code coordination manager
chief fire officer

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of store detective.

  • Surveillance methods: Surveillance methods used in the gathering of information and intelligence for investigation purposes.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of store detective.

  • Monitor sales area for security reasons: Observe the behaviour of customers in sales areas, in order to maintain order and security and spot potential risks.
  • Comply with legal regulations: Ensure you are properly informed of the legal regulations that govern a specific activity and adhere to its rules, policies and laws.
  • Ensure public safety and security: Implement the relevant procedures, strategies and use the proper equipment to promote local or national security activities for the protection of data, people, institutions, and property.
  • Identify suspicious behaviour: Rapidly spot and identify individuals or customers who behave suspiciously and keep them under close observation.
  • Monitor surveillance equipment: Monitor the operation of equipment used in surveillance and gathering of intelligence to ensure it functions properly and to gather the surveillance information detected by it.
  • Confront offenders: Confront shoplifters with their acts by presenting evidence such as video recordings.
  • Interrogate individuals: Interview individuals in such a manner that they give information that could be of use in an investigation and that they possibly tried to conceal.
  • Identify security threats: Identify security threats during investigations, inspections, or patrols, and perform the necessary actions to minimise or neutralise the threat.
  • Document security incidents in the store: Prepare documentation and specific reports of the security threats, observations and incidents, such as shoplifting, that occur in the store, to be used as evidence against the offender, if required.
  • Detain offenders: Keep back offenders and trespassers in a certain area.
  • Liaise with security authorities: Respond quickly to security incidents and violations by calling the police and keep in touch with other relevant parties involved in the potential prosecution of the offender.
  • Prevent shoplifting: Identify shoplifters and methods by which shoplifters try to steal. Implement anti-shoplifting policies and procedures to protect against theft.
  • Practice vigilance: Practice vigilance during patrol or other surveillance activities in order to ensure safety and security, to look out for suspicious behaviour or other alarming changes in patterns or activities, and to respond quickly to these changes.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of store detective. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Check methods: Procedures used for investigative purposes such as surveillance by physical and electronic means, interrogations of witnesses, collection of objects and data for assessment and analysis and physical and electronic research for collecting data.
  • Fire safety regulations: The legal rules to be applied for fire safety and fire prevention in a facility.
  • Legal requirements related to ammunition: Legal regulations and requirements in the field of selling, buying, handling and storing ammunition.
  • Criminal law: Th legal rules, constitutions and regulations applicable for the punishement of offenders.
  • Civil law: The legal rules and their applications used in disputes between different parties.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of store detective. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Operate radio equipment: Set up and operate radio devices and accessories, such as broadcast consoles, amplifiers, and microphones. Understand the basics of radio operator language and, when necessary, provide instruction in handling radio equipment correctly.
  • Apply conflict management: Take ownership of the handling of all complaints and disputes showing empathy and understanding to achieve resolution. To be fully aware of all Social Responsibility protocols and procedures, and to be able to deal with a problem gambling situation in a professional manner with maturity and empathy.
  • Monitor cashiers: Investigate the actions of the checkout staff in order to detect potential incorrect invoicing.
  • Perform risk analysis: Identify and assess factors that may jeopardise the success of a project or threaten the organisation’s functioning. Implement procedures to avoid or minimise their impact.
  • Carry out covert security observations: Perform observations in ways that preserve the covert security role, by dressing up, behaving and communicating with other colleagues or authorities appropriately.
  • Identify terrorism threats: Identify the possibility of terrorism activities posing threats and danger in a specific area by monitoring activities of potentially dangerous groups of people, assessing risks in different areas, and gathering intelligence.
  • Perform security checks: Monitor and check individuals’ bags or personal items in order to make sure the individuals present no threats and that their behaviour is legally compliant.
  • Operate fire extinguishers: Understand the operation of fire extinguishing equipment and fire extinguishing techniques.
  • Create a prevention security plan for the store: Design a security plan for the establishment, according to its specifications and security needs in order to prevent any shoplifting or other security threats.

ISCO group and title

3411 – Legal and related associate professionals

  1. Store detective – ESCO
  2. Store detective | Explore careers – National Careers Service
  3. Featured image: Photo by Clark Street Mercantile on Unsplash
Last updated on March 3, 2023

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