Store Detective

Job Description:

Store detectives prevent shoplifting in retail outlets and shopping centres.

Job Category:
Retail & Consumer

What you will do:

You could:

  • follow shoppers or staff who behave suspiciously
  • call the police to describe what you’ve seen
  • take evidence from witnesses
  • write short reports
  • give evidence in court
  • prevent anyone trying to leave the store with stolen goods


You’ll need:

  • knowledge of public safety and security
  • knowledge of English language
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

As well as:

  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • the ability to work well with others (teamwork)
  • the ability to use your initiative (drive)
  • customer service skills
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

To become a store detective or a loss prevention officer, specific GCSE subjects are not typically required. However, there are skills and qualities that can make you a strong candidate for this role. Store detectives are responsible for preventing theft and maintaining security in retail stores. Here are some skills and attributes that can be valuable:

  1. Observation Skills: Store detectives must be vigilant and observant to identify suspicious behavior and potential theft.
  2. Communication Skills: Effective communication is essential for interacting with store personnel, suspected shoplifters, and law enforcement if necessary.
  3. Integrity and Honesty: Store detectives need to be trustworthy and have a strong sense of integrity, as they may handle sensitive situations involving theft.
  4. Physical Fitness: Some situations may require store detectives to physically restrain or detain shoplifters, so physical fitness and self-defense training can be advantageous.
  5. Problem-Solving Skills: The ability to think on your feet and make quick decisions is crucial in this role, especially when assessing situations and determining how to respond.
  6. Teamwork: Collaborating with store staff and security personnel is common, so being a team player is important.
  7. Legal Knowledge: An understanding of the laws and regulations related to retail theft and apprehension is helpful, although you can learn this on the job.

While specific GCSE subjects are not mandatory, a background in law enforcement, security, or a related field can be beneficial. Some employers may prefer candidates with previous security or law enforcement experience. Additionally, training and certification in security procedures and conflict resolution can enhance your qualifications for a store detective role.

You can get into this job through:

  • an apprenticeship
  • applying directly

UK apprenticeships relevant to this role include Level 3 Security first line manager

Direct Application
You could apply directly for jobs if you’ve got relevant experience in retail security, or from working in the police, armed forces or a security company.

You’ll need to:

  • have a good level of fitness
  • be over 18 years of age
  • pass enhanced background checks

Employers will carry out checks on your personal and work history, which could go back up to 10 years.

In the UK, you may need a security licence issued by the Security Industry Authority (SIA) for certain jobs. You can complete relevant SIA approved training if you need to get one.

You might also need a driving licence and access to a vehicle.

Working Hours and Environment:

You could work at a store or in a court.

Your working environment may be crowded.

Career Path & Progression:

With experience you could progress to a senior post, like supervisor or security manager.

You could also become self-employed and work on contracts for stores.