Watching over Store Security in Texas

Aaron Metoyer can monitor security for 11 Marshalls and HomeGoods stores from a central location.
Aaron Metoyer can monitor security for 11 Marshalls and HomeGoods stores from a central location.

As a District Loss Prevention Manager for TJX Companies, Inc., Alumnus Aaron Metoyer said one of his biggest challenges is keeping up with organized crime in the retail industry, whether it is organized groups running out of stores with large quantities of high-end merchandise or schemes to return goods for cash using fictitious receipts.

“Our society changes from year to year,” said Metoyer, a 1992 graduate. “Organized crime is multiple individuals working together to circumvent the system. We have to find ways to identify, track and prosecute them and still follow policies and procedures.”

Metoyer trains an associate on physical security.
Metoyer trains an associate on physical security.
Metoyer oversees the training and development of store leaders at 11 retail stores in the state, which includes Marshalls and Homegoods Stores, divisions of TJX Companies. He trains loss prevention specialists and store managers on internal and external loss prevention issues, such as physical security detection, shoplifting, operational deficiencies, and internal theft. His stores are scattered throughout the state, including locations in North Houston, Huntsville, Beaumont, Odessa and San Angelo.

Metoyer is also responsible for safety at the facilities, including issues like workman’s compensation, employee and customer accidents, hurricane preparedness and new manager orientation on actions as diverse as emergency response, robberies, bomb threats, emergency calls and ways to minimize accidents.

Metoyer checks the electronic tags on merchandise in stores.
Metoyer checks the electronic tags on merchandise in stores.
Metoyer’s career in retail security began in a class at Sam Houston State University, when a professor discussed the many career options available to students with a criminal justice degree. While Metoyer wanted to be a Special Agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration or the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, he also wanted to start a family and knew the life of a federal agent was not conducive because of relocation, travel, hours and danger.

It was then he investigated a career in asset protection and loss prevention. He got a full-time job as a loss prevention officer at Target and has worked for Stage Stores Inc. and Gadzooks before joining TJX in 2002.

At Stage Stores, the parent company for Palais Royal, Bealls, Goody’s and Peebles stores, he helped crack a $1.4 million case involving stolen merchandise. In San Antonio, the company was using a third-party distribution center to send merchandise to area stores, and six to seven employees were stealing cartons full of clothes and selling them out of their homes.

“It was an Organized Crime Group responsible for the thefts in the distribution center,” said Metoyer. “They were selling the merchandise out of their house.”

Metoyer partners with a district operations manager on business-related figures.
Metoyer partners with a district operations manager on business-related figures.
In addition to monitoring internal and external theft, Metoyer also helps stores stop operational deficiencies at every stage in the process. During distribution, this may involve identifying discrepancies in trucks delivering to stores by inspecting seals, locks, manifests and bills of lading or checking truck trailers/cabs for merchandise.

In the store, it may include double-checking merchandise markdowns for accuracy, ensuring that there is no double scanning of merchandise during inventory, and ensuring that auditing policies and procedures are up to date and followed by employees.

For safety, it may include monitoring workman’s compensation claims, investigating employee or visitor accidents and getting involved in the interviewing and hiring of store manages.

In retail, technology is an important part of safety and security.

“Technology plays a huge part in the job,” said Metoyer. “We need direct communication with our teams and the stores. We need to know what is happening in our stores almost instantaneously for a more effective response and resolution.”

Key to the process is a sophisticated system of cameras that can be remotely viewed from various locations, as well as electronic devices on merchandise that provide “screamer” alarms when goods are illegally taken out of the store. Laptops and phones also assist with communications to the stores, company officials, and local law enforcement.

Metoyer celebrates the success of TJX at a Store Manager Conference.
Metoyer celebrates the success of TJX at a Store Manager Conference.
Metoyer enjoys his career because it combines the two degrees he pursued in college: criminal justice with a business minor. In fact, Metoyer had toyed with becoming an accountant while at Sam Houston State University.

“It involves the whole business aspect,” said Metoyer. “But it has criminal justice aspects with law enforcement and the courts. It allows me to network with them in a business environment.”

Member of The Texas State University System