Six Steps to Detect and Deter During the Holidays and the Continuing Pandemic

Every year around the holidays, surveillance departments and loss prevention units prepare for the possibility of increased theft by their employees.

Usually, such theft can occur due to employees and outside agents needing money for gifts and perhaps holiday cheer. Tokes can be down due to gamblers and visitors staying home or saving their money for their own holidays. Employees may also not be getting the hours they need due to the pace of business. Surveillance professionals know this and adjust accordingly.

What’s Different Now? 

Under normal conditions, such theft can be costly enough. Nowadays, we may be looking at levels of theft we’ve never experienced. What’s different? Like everything and everywhere else: the continuing pandemic!

Along with our usual holiday woes and concerns, now we’re dealing with understaffed properties to include food and beverage venues, as well as other retail locations. Not having enough employees and especially lack of their supervision can result in lost revenues, waste, and theft of product or cash.

Inflation is now a concern. An employee’s paycheck doesn’t buy what it used to. How can an employee on a limited income make up the difference? I’m not saying that all employees steal, they don’t. But the ones that do can be very costly in what they take, and the time and resources needed to deter and detect them.

I think the pandemic is having another effect on us all. As we all know, Christmas is and should be a happy holiday. But we also know that the holidays aren’t happy for everyone. In fact, the holidays can be lonely, depressing, and stressful for many people. Sometimes individuals suffering from these emotions act out against themselves and/or others. They may drink too much, take an excessive amount of drugs, become violent towards other people or property, or even commit suicide. Traditionally, security and surveillance teams know this and do what they can to prepare for these types of events. But have we considered where we are today?

Protecting Casino Resorts Today

The pandemic, politics, civil unrest, the reduction of police in many areas, as well as changes in drug and bail laws, among other things, have changed our world. Two recent examples come to mind: the Waukesha Christmas Parade attack by a career criminal and the Astroworld crowd tragedy. The tragic deaths of people attending a parade or concert should be a wakeup call for us, especially for those of us who protect casino resort properties. All of us must consider and prepare for the security of the events we have on our properties. We all have concerts, and even parades. We have numerous events and activities that can be attacked.

Six basic steps to aid in detection and deterrence:

  1. Monitor guest ingress and egress points
  2. Monitor employee entrances and loading docks
  3. Monitor and patrol hotel hallways, storage areas
  4. Monitor and patrol back of house areas
  5. Monitor and patrol the gaming and non-gaming areas
  6. Review reports including exception reports


1. Monitor Guest Ingress and Egress Points

Monitor guest ingress and egress points for intoxicated guests arriving on or leaving property (refer to your local and state laws regarding liquor liability at your property). The ingress and egress points should also be monitored for undesirables.

2. Monitor Employee Entrances and Loading Docks

Employee and vendor entrances and loading docks should be monitored for unusual or suspicious behavior. Bags and/or boxes leaving could indicate potential theft of merchandise and should be investigated.

3. Monitor and Patrol Hotel Hallways, Storage Areas

Monitor and patrol hotel hallways and storage areas for unregistered guests and undesirables. A common issue are door pushers. The person pushes on doors looking for one that is unsecured so they can enter and take items. Guests have been fatally injured when found in unsecured rooms by door pushers.

4. Monitor and Patrol Back of House Areas

The back of the house areas should be monitored and patrolled for suspicious activity or those not authorized to be in the area. Ensure those in the back of the house are currently employed by the property and are not engaging in suspicious activity.

5. Monitor and Patrol the Gaming and Non-Gaming Areas

Monitor and patrol the gaming and non-gaming areas for suspicious activity and/or undesirables. It is very beneficial to watch for body language that indicates a guest (or employee) may be agitated and measures to de-escalate a potential volatile situation need to be implemented to ensure the safety of guests and employees.

6. Review Reports Including Exception Reports

Always review the POS reports and receipts, player ratings, casino handle and holds for indications of theft or fraud. Low cash sales, inflated player ratings, low holds could all be indicative of a potentially large loss to the property.


Remember, surveillance rooms are now a key component for the casino resort for its protection and overall security. We must take an “all hazard” approach when assessing our risks and vulnerabilities.

Jennifer Boss 19 Articles