BRADENTON -- Dan Doyle has always been curious about what other people are doing, particularly the bad stuff.
For 22 years starting in 1990, Doyle headed the loss-prevention department for Bradenton-based Bealls stores. In that time, he led an effort that tracked down the criminals who have stolen merchandise and cash from the retailer, and prevented other thefts that likely would have totaled even bigger losses.
Loss prevention is, Doyle said, all about the "prevention" part.
"Rarely does it provide a dollar-for-dollar payback," said Doyle, who was promoted two years ago to Bealls' chief human resources officer. "It's hard to know what the loss value would be without the protection."
Retailers nationwide lose a total of about $30 billion a year to shoplifting, fraud and other types of theft within their organizations, according to the Washington, D.C.-based National Retail Federation. Of greatest concern to retailers over the past two decades has been the emergence of organized retail crime.
This week, Doyle receives special recognition from the national federation for pioneering work to educate industry, government and law enforcement about the magnitude of retail crime, and its connections to crimes committed in the greater community. The National Retail Federation will award Doyle with its "Ring of Excellence" at its annual conference in Fort Lauderdale, recognizing his work with Bealls and his participation in the national loss prevention conversation.
A licensed private investigator who cut his teeth in the loss-prevention industry with retailers Marshall Fields and Lord & Taylor, Doyle led the effort within Bealls to modernize the company's loss prevention infrastructure. The company spent millions of dollars on technology, including a closed-circuit television system that allows loss-prevention staff to monitor nearly every area in a portion of the company's more than 530 Bealls, Bealls Outlet and Burkes Outlet stores from the company's 13th Avenue East headquarters.
The buildup has kept the company within the industry's loss benchmark of 2 percent of annu
al revenue. But that still works out to millions of dollars in losses over time, Doyle said.
Today, about 120 Bealls employees work in loss prevention. That's a long way from nearly 25 years ago, when Doyle's primary targets of suspicion were teenagers and "onsie-twosie" criminals walking out of stores with the odd item they didn't buy.
"I think at that point in '90 we were just out catching shoplifters," he said.
His job became a more serious proposition as the years passed. About 15 years ago, organized thieves began targeting Bealls stores and other retailers, making daily visits to steal clothing and other items. They made money by selling those items.
At the time, he said, law enforcement didn't take retail crime seriously. Doyle was one of a few loss-prevention specialists who helped law enforcement see that shoplifting suspects were often involved in other crimes outside of retail.
To stem the flow of stolen goods out of Bealls, Doyle's personnel began working criminal investigations alongside law enforcement agencies including police, sheriff, the FBI and the Secret Service. Jim Ostojik, a sergeant with the Polk County Sheriff's Office, said assistance from Bealls has helped net retail crime organizations. In April, Polk County Sheriff's personnel arrested 37 people in its "Operation Sticky Hands" using in-store surveillance at Bealls and several other retail chains.
Doyle, Ostojik said, helped build the bridge between law enforcement and retail making these operations possible.
"He's definitely someone who stands out in the in the retail community," he said.
Loss prevention also became the go-to team at Bealls to investigate other crimes, including return fraud, employee theft and merchandise theft occurring at loading docks.
It is the front line in defending against even wider crimes, such as a "huge embezzlement" or the theft of credit card information. Doyle said such crimes are particularly damaging because they can hurt a company's reputation.
While Doyle took pride in the property crime prevention part of his previous job, his biggest daily worry was keeping Bealls stores safe for employees and customers. Video surveillance has gone a long way in that regard, helping stop and investigate carjackings, purse snatchings and other crimes at the malls where Bealls stores are located. Those manning the video monitors have also helped Bealls employees in dangerous situations in stores and warehouse facilities.
"My greatest concern is any of our team members getting hurt," Doyle said.
At 56, Doyle said he is enjoying his new role in human resources. The job satisfies his natural curiosity and keeps him on the people side of the business.
Doyle previously worked as the head of loss prevention and human resources.
Matt M. Johnson, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7027, or on Twitter @MattAtBradenton.