What Is A Store Detective?

Written by Nyah Mallen

25th April 2023

Retail shops often find themselves falling victim to criminal activity. In a study performed by the ACS, it was discovered that there were a total of 1.1 million incidents of shop theft in 2023. Additionally, only 16% of all retail crime is reported to the authorities by retailers. This is because they do not have confidence that the report will be followed up with an investigation, they feel like there is a lack of response and they feel as though the time it takes to file a report is not worth it.

Security guards are one popular method retailers have taken to in order to protect their stores. However, there is another security role that can help to provide protection – a store detective. In this article, we cover the basics such as what is a store detective and what are their duties, among other things.

What Is A Store Detective?

Primarily, store detectives work within retail outlets, like supermarkets or commercial stores. They are often members of loss prevention, which means their main duties are to identify and stop shoplifting.

However, they do this in a much more discreet manner compared to security guards. A shop detective wears plain clothes to blend in with members of the general public.

Store Detective Responsibilities

Store detectives are usually required to fulfil many different responsibilities. Their key role is to spot signs of suspicious behaviour to identify potential criminals. To achieve this, they make rounds of the outlet they’re guarding. These aren’t the only duties store detectives will perform, some other examples include:

  • Writing incident reports
  • Taking witness accounts
  • Investigating fraudulent activity
  • Tail shoppers or employees who are exhibiting suspicious behaviour
  • Cooperating with the authorities about incidents
  • Providing evidence in court
  • Preventing anyone who is trying to leave with stolen goods
  • Possibly performing bag searches of employees’ belongings
  • Giving guidance to customers
Store Detective On Radio

Do You Need An SIA Licence To Become A Store Detective?

A frequently asked question surrounding store detectives is whether you require an SIA licence to be one or not. Despite the store detective role being within the security industry, whether they need a licence or not varies based on the role they are applying for.

It especially depends on if the store detective is working under a contract or is self-employed. Some contracts require their investigators to be licenced, then it’s likely they will require an SIA Security Guard licence or an SIA CCTV Operator licence.

How To Become A Store Detective?

The process of becoming a shop detective is somewhat similar to the process of becoming a retail security guard. The requirements to work in this role are as follows:

  • You need to be a minimum of 18 years old
  • You will need to pass enhanced background checks
  • Being physically fit is recommended
  • You may need a driving licence and vehicle
  • You may need the appropriate SIA licenced for contracted work

When it comes to applying for store detective jobs, there are two main approaches to take. You can find them both listed below.

Through Taking An Apprenticeship

The first method to becoming a store detective is to take a Level 3 Security first-line manager apprenticeship. To pass the entry requirements for the role, you’ll need to have a minimum of 5 GCSEs graded between A* and C – and they must include English and Maths.

It is recommended that you look online at the government website to find an appropriate apprenticeship for the store detective role. It is also crucial to ensure that the apprenticeship is by an approved provider.

Store Detective Talking Through A Radio

By Directly Applying For A Store Detective Job

The second method is to directly apply for shop detective jobs. However, this method is only recommended if you already have experience in the industry. Ideally, store detective job roles look for people with experience from:

  • Working in retail security
  • Working at a security company
  • Working in the police
  • Working in the armed forces

What Skills Are Needed To Become A Store Detective?

There are a variety of skills that a store detective will need, given the line of work that they do. However, because the role is in the security industry, the skills they need are very similar to the ones that retail security guards would require. These include:

  • Fantastic observational skills
  • Critical thinking skills
  • High levels of patience
  • A keen eye for details
  • Good customer service skills
  • The ability to stay calm in high-pressure environments
  • Good knowledge of public health and safety regulations
  • Co-operative skills

How Much Do Store Detectives Earn?

According to Glassdoor, in 2024, the average store detective UK salary is estimated to be £24,591 a year. However, salary can vary greatly depending on the location of the store they work in, as well as what kind of store they work in. Companies based in bigger cities, that sell electronics and other valuables are likely to pay more than smaller rural areas that sell general goods.

Can A Store Detective Search You?

Much like security guards, store detectives do not hold any more authority than a regular citizen does. This means that if they request to search you or your belongings, they must be given your consent to perform the search. If you do not consent, they legally are not allowed to search you – though this may mean you are asked to leave or refused entry to the premises entirely. If you are suspected of shoplifting, then you may be put under citizen’s arrest until the authorities arrive to take control of the situation.

What Is A Store Detective?

So, What Is A Store Detective?

In this article, we have covered the basics, such as what a store detective is, what their duties involve, and the skills needed to be one. We have also gone over some additional information, such as expected salaries, and whether or not they can search you.

If you liked this article and would like to learn more about retail security, consider checking out our Retail Articles page where you can discover articles on Retail Security Officer Duties or How To Be An Efficient Retail Security Officer.

Additionally, if you’d like more than just articles, visit our official Region Security Guarding YouTube channel to keep up to date with the latest security content.

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