Tips for Devising Optimal Security Measures in Shopping Malls and Other Public Spaces

Devising optimal security measures in shopping malls and other public spaces requires a comprehensive approach that balances safety, accessibility, and user experience. Business owners need to prepare themselves to protect their properties and investments against potential threats such as shoplifters, and in extreme cases, organized retail crime (ORC).

In fact, there has been a significant uptick in retail crime, which has had a profound effect on the shrink (loss) rate experienced by retailers of all sizes. The shrink rate is at a reported $112.1 billion in losses – up from $93.9 billion – and is primarily driven by theft, including a surge in ORC. This is according to the 2023 Retail Security Survey issued by the National Retail Federation and Loss Prevention Research Council.

We recently sat down with Scott Sturgess, Chief Revenue Officer at Arrow Security, who has over 25 years of experience in the security industry, to discuss some key tips to keep in mind when assembling a security program for your retail business.

Here are 5 tips to consider when contemplating a retail security program:

#1. Conduct a Risk Assessment

Conduct an audit of your current security program to identify threats and vulnerabilities within your retail space. Business owners should determine the potential impact and likelihood of each identified threat to prioritize security measures accordingly. Evaluate potential risks, such as theft, vandalism, and natural disasters, and assess how your current program is set up to address these risks.

“Arrow Academy, our security guard training center, offers more than 200 training courses specifically designed with a customized training course curriculum that focuses on the retail setting,” explains Sturgess. “We offer courses in Emergency Response in the Retail Setting; Customer Service as a Security Function; and Parking Lot Security to highlight just a few.”

#2. Implement Physical Security Measures

Having a physical security presence in your business is a significant deterrent to theft and criminal activity. This includes security guards and surveillance systems, such as closed circuit tv cameras in areas such as entrances, exits, and parking lots. Ensure there is adequate lighting in all areas, particularly in parking lots and other less-trafficked zones, to deter criminal activity and help protect your customers and employees as they enter and exit your business.

“The officer selection process is a key element to look for when partnering with a security company. Placing the right officer in the right environment, an officer who gels with that business’s culture, is crucial. Our officers are not only thoroughly trained in conflict resolution and de-escalation techniques, they are also trained in concierge services. Our officers greet and assist customers, which provides an added level of comfort to their retail experience,” says Sturgess.

#3. Incorporate Technology

Install and regularly test alarm systems to ensure quick response to unauthorized access or emergencies. Maintain robust communication systems, including intercoms and emergency call stations, to facilitate rapid response and coordination during incidents.

The other aspect of technology encompasses the security team’s use. “Officers checking in and checking out, having the ability to do reports electronically, and having their post orders at their fingertips are some of the technologies we implement in retail – in addition to our 24/7, 365 centralized command center, where we ensure that all posts are filled for our clients,” says Sturgess.

#4. Develop and Enforce Security Policies

Retail business owners can collaborate with their security provider to develop detailed response plans for various scenarios, such as internal theft (i.e. shoplifting or organized retail crime) and, in extreme cases, active shooter situations, fires, or natural disasters. Conduct regular drills in your retail space to ensure readiness. Implement policies for bag checks, visitor registration, and other preventive measures – without causing significant inconvenience to legitimate users. This can assist in deterring internal issues such as shoplifting and employee theft.

“Every security program we create is customized and tailored to the needs of our partners. We work hard to put a lot of value-added solutions into our programs in order to demonstrate our commitment to earning and keeping their business,” explains Sturgess.

#5. Regular Evaluation and Adaptation

Keep an open line of communication with your security company. Regularly review and evaluate security measures based on new threats, technological advancements, and feedback from stakeholders. Conduct periodic security audits and scenario-based testing to identify weaknesses and improve response strategies.

Having the right security team, coupled with the right technology, can go a long way to deterring retail crime. “And never forget,” says Sturgess, “that true security professionals focus on continuous improvement for themselves and their clients.”

For more information about retail security, visit the Retail Sector Information section of