Have you walked into your local Target store and seen a security guard right at the store’s entrance by the shopping carts? They are usually friendly and greet you while standing next to a Target worker. Most shoppers do not think anything of it, but why are the security guards there, and what do they do?
Target hires security guards to keep its customers and employees safe. They also use a security team to control loss prevention of inventory.
Sadly, we live in a world where unfortunate events can escalate quickly. Situation escalation can mean petty theft or an active shooter situation. Target security protects its workers and inventory and gives customers a sense of safety while shopping.
So, what do you need to know about security guards and Target’s shoplifting policies?
What do Target security guards do?
Target security guards are trained in-house and have a series of tasks throughout their shifts. These tasks include engaging with team members to see if something needs to be addressed, maintaining security measures throughout the store, and submitting reports when incidents occur. Their roles are critical to the implementation of safety and operation of each Target location.
Target security guards are usually stationed at the store entrance and work with other team members to greet customers. During their shift, or if there is suspicion of something going on throughout the store, the security guard will walk the aisles to ensure nothing is ensuing.
Apart from security guards, the Target security team monitors cameras 24/7, including when the store is closed to customers. Some blogs have shared that Target holds some of the best security camera technology in the country. The technology is supposedly better than most of its competitors if not all of them. Target can track shoplifters between stores by retaining criminal records and identifying thieves by their faces.
Target’s shoplifting policy
Target does not mention its shoplifting policy on its company site
In the event of shoplifting, the store immediately has the right to question, hold and detain suspected shoplifters before calling local law enforcement.
As mentioned before, Target security monitors cameras all the time and every single day. They do not pause in tracking the store’s state if the store is physically closed or if it is a holiday.
During store hours, the security team monitors customers in the store with face and fingerprint tracking technology. The security team watches and, if needed, follow the faces of those who have stolen small items to create a track record to build their case against the thief.
When the time comes to involve law enforcement, the criminal case is pretty bulletproof, and Target is not afraid to press charges or make sure that the person in question sees time in jail. Business Insider supports Aisle of Shame’s analysis of Target’s shoplifting procedures. Target waits until the value of stolen inventory is met before pressing any charges.
Values of grand theft are determined by local state laws and vary from state to state. The retailer understands the law per state and strictly applies it to each case, and they aim for charges of grand theft before involving law enforcement.
Target does not aim for petty theft, as it favors involving law enforcement when it is considered grand theft or robbery. However, to track activity, Target will share its gathered intel with other retailers, including images and fingerprints, to prevent the shoplifter from stealing from different stores in the surrounding areas.
While there is a considerable focus on theft from in-store customers, Target also tracks its employees with the same tactics for potential shoplifting. They will not arrest the worker until they have stolen enough to be grand theft or robbery within their local state.
Overall, it became more worthwhile for the company to go after customers and employees who have committed more punishable crimes rather than for every minor theft.
Target’s relationship with law enforcement
With an influx of online shoppers and visiting stores, Target must ensure that each location keeps a positive relationship with local police departments.
Unfortunately, many local police departments do not have the resources to arrest petty crimes and tend to focus on more burdensome cases. However, since Target develops cases against shoplifters, it helps the police department because there are more significant charges to press against the individual.
These requirements depend on the city and state. For example, in Nevada, the shoplifter must steal over $1200 worth of inventory to have charges pressed against thieves by the retailer.
How do you become part of the Target Security team?
Depending on your location and the availability of the position, Target hires its security team internally. This means that they do not hire a third party. For example, the Target Security Specialist role works in the Security and Loss Prevention Department and is trained directly by Target.
Target’s ideal candidate is someone who can adapt quickly to a changing situation, including handling the stress of a crisis. In addition, the candidate should be able to understand and view surveillance and attempt to recover stolen goods from the store.
Ideal candidates must have a high school diploma or equivalent, be 18 years of age, have any state-mandated licenses or certifications, and be a team player. In addition, they would like for their ideal candidate to be able to work independently and adapt to quick changes in monitoring technology and situations.
ZipRecruiter reports that the national average salary for Target Security Specialists is $48,990. However, the average can vary by state. For example, the average salary for this position in Miami, Florida, is $46,114, which is under the national average.
Other Reasons Target May Have Security
Below are a few reasons why Target as well as other stores may have security.
1. Security Guards Help Stop Casual Theft
No, we’re not talking about security guards physically or verbally intervening in theft when it happens. Actual altercations between guards and customers are very rare in most places.
Instead, security guards make it less likely for people to try and shoplift in the first place.
Seeing a guard walking around might make it less likely for tempted customers to wander out of the store with stolen items.
2. Having Security Guards Can Help Diffuse Negative Situations
One of the main reasons Target has security guards isn’t actually about theft at all; it’s about keeping people safer and calmer in the store.
Think about it–security guards are trained to position themselves as people of authority. They’re also trained on how to defuse escalated situations and how to manage customers that are being disruptive.
So one of the roles of a Target security guard is actually to check on arguing customers and make sure they’re okay or ask them to leave if they are causing a problem. They may also help with the Guest Services desk to keep customers calmer and escort customers who cross a line out of the store.
In the worst-case scenarios, a security guard can also help keep other store representatives safer by intervening when a customer becomes dangerous or escalates in a way that indicates imminent violence.
3. Security Guards Can Help Customers Feel Safer
This is one of the passive effects of having a security guard, but the presence of visible security can actually make customers more relaxed and help them feel safer in a store.
Just knowing that there is someone there who will intervene in an incident can help people relax. Relaxed customers are less likely to be involved in or start a problem, which makes Target stores a safer place to be in general.
4. Having Security Guards Protects Profit Margins
One of the most obvious, but not often most important, reasons for security guards is that they help protect the profit margins in stores.
Interestingly, when you talk with past Target security guards, they’ll emphasize that they weren’t actually supposed to stop all shoplifting. If they were unsure about a customer grabbing something, they weren’t supposed to say anything.
Even if the security guard knows that you’ve hidden something in your pockets, if it’s a low value-item, they were allowed to choose not to say anything.
Security guards are really only there to intervene if customers try to walk off with ‘high-value’ items. Of course, they won’t say what counts as high-value, but most store security guards aren’t all that concerned about shoplifting.
The only time Target security guards are likely to have a vigilant eye on all Target merchandise is if they’re working in a store that has a known history of shoplifting and has proven that the shoplifting in the area is affecting their profit margins.
Still, security guards protect profit margins and help keep the highest-value items in the store. Plus, having a security guard can make it easier for stores to keep higher-value items out on display instead of putting them behind security locks or special display cases that can reduce how many items are bought.
5. They Help Work With Distressed/Threatened Customers
While rare, it’s true that sometimes people will take shelter in a store. Stores like Target, which have bright lights and feel safe, can be a common target for people who are afraid they’re being followed, trying to get out of a fight, or avoiding specific people.
Part of what security guards can do is spot distressed customers and check on them quickly to make sure everything is okay. They can provide a sense of safety to those customers and may also help them decide what to do next if they come into Target and are in trouble.
If you’ve ever worked a retail job and been surprised by a customer that needed help with a problem outside the store, you can understand how important it is to have someone trained to handle these issues who knows what to do.
Unfortunately, even management may not be trained to handle some situations. But security guards are, and they know exactly what they can and can’t do on behalf of distressed customers.
Know this when entering a Target store
It cannot be stressed enough that security keeps you safe. Every member of the Target team serves a purpose in the store’s operation and has designated tasks that may require questioning and walks around the store. Their role optimizes the Target consumer and employee experience to be the best it can be.
Hi there, I’m JJ, and welcome To EverydayQuery! Founded in 2022, we created this project to be the most complete resource on the web for your everyday questions regarding retail, shopping experiences, and overall consumer questions. We’re a team of passionate consumers whose mission is to provide the best answers to your everyday questions.