The real world of loss prevention

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In the world of loss prevention, truth is sometimes stranger than fiction. The job involves “so much more than catching the bad people,” says Rosamaria Sostilio, vice president of loss prevention at Barnes & Noble. That will always be a component of the job, she says, but it comes down to understanding and supporting the company’s initiatives. In 35 years of a loss prevention career, Sostilio has seen the industry go through many changes, frequently because of technological advances.

Ahead of her appearance at NRF PROTECT 2018, Sostilio joined Retail Gets Real to reveal this hidden side of retail and what it takes for a woman to rise to the top in the industry.

Sostilio didn’t start her retail career in LP; she started behind the makeup counter. But the thefts she saw bothered her. When she moved into a job in the retailer's general office, she began noticing return fraud, and it became clear she had a knack for spotting these problems. Sostilio started a career in what was called “security” then. Throughout the course of her career, Sostilio says the industry moved through name and philosophy changes — security became loss prevention, which became asset protection and what some now see as enterprise risk management.

Rosamaria Sostilio (center) joined co-hosts Bill Thorne (left) and Jen Overstreet (right) in the recording studio.

Rosamaria Sostilio (center) joined co-hosts Bill Thorne (left) and Jen Overstreet (right) in the recording studio.

The role itself wasn’t the only thing to evolve in loss prevention — the makeup of the people in those jobs evolved as well. “When I started, I was one of very few female executives,” Sostilio says. Luckily, times have changed for the better and women aren’t scarce in the leadership ranks today.

What does it take to succeed in LP? Curiosity and diversity in thought, Sostilio says. Technology is driving many changes, especially in monitoring and detection, and retailers today are prioritizing cybersecurity and the need to constantly try to keep ahead of possible breaches.


NRF PROTECT 2018, June 11-13 in Dallas, gathers LP professionals to learn, network and discover the latest LP technologies. Learn more.

Sostilio believes one of the most important things loss prevention officers can do is form partnerships with entities like local law enforcement. Her advice for other loss prevention professionals is to develop individual relationships with those responsible parties early. As part of her work with the NRF LP Council, Sostilio and her peers focus on meeting with agencies like the FBI. “Don’t wait for an emergency. Make the partnerships ahead of time,” she says.

Listen to this episode to learn more about the loss prevention field and how technology has changed the profession. To hear more from loss prevention leaders like Sostilio, register for NRF PROTECT 2018 from June 11 - 13 in Dallas.

Jen Overstreet is a co-host on NRF’s Retail Gets Real podcast. Meet all the co-hosts and learn more about the show.