Henderson Cooper, a retired police officer and former undercover CIA operative, has been in the private sector for some time now, but still hasn’t shaken the habit of scanning any given room for exits, Jason Bourne–style.
Currently the president of security and special operations consulting and training firm, Cooper Consulting International, Cooper is also on the advisory board of Escape the Wolf, a Virginia Beach, Va.–based firm that consults with businesses on security and safe travel.
The hardboiled expert helmed a seminar, “Securing Your Store,” at JCK Las Vegas this year, and had a litany of tips (and even more wake-up calls) to share with the retailer-heavy audience. A few highlights:
- “When it comes to theft and robberies, everything is planned and plotted. Do those bad guys come into the store before the robbery? Yes. Do they come by your house? Yes. Some of the best surveillance officers in the world are criminals.”
- “The police will not be there when you need them. That’s the truth. And it’s simply because they can’t be everywhere. For example, there are 8 million people in L.A., and 10,000 police officers.”
- “The truth is that you can put locks on the doors and windows and [criminals] can smash the windows. You put a deadbolt on it and they’re going to drive a truck through it. But physical security is still very important—it will deter some people.”
- “You have to start looking at where you live and where you work and how you do your stuff. Look at your tendencies—then mix up what you do. Mix up the times you go to work, how you do things. I would suggest not walking to the bank the same way every day.”
- “Pick people’s brains when they come into store. In essence, you’re casing them. Bad guys check out how attentive the workers in the store are. If you interpret the process of them casing the store, they have to make some adjustments.”
- “Being a good salesperson is the best way to case someone. After [helping them], you will have a memory of them. Notice, did they look or act nervous when you were helping them?”
- “Be aware, listen, and remember who your customers are. Profile all your good customers and visitors.”
- “Guns are a deterrent, but I’ve run into many criminals who were not impressed by a gun barrel pushed to their face. I would not recommend having a gun.… It can also be bad. You should be a gun expert if you have one. If you decide to get one and use it in the right way, it’s a valuable tool. But you don’t want to get into a gun fight. Even when you win the gun fight, you lose.”
- “If you suspect someone is dangerous and he’s not leaving the store, go to the telephone. Announce that you are calling police. Still worried? Then you leave. Your life is much more important than the jewelry.”