Suspicious Sales: Retail Security Awareness


For tomorrow night, I really think we should
get there for five o’clock at the latest. But the fireworks don’t start until nine thirty! I know, but I want to get there as soon as
possible so we Oh, here. I’ll take that. Thanks. The apartment was rented to one man, Alan
Brown. The local police are canvassing, but looks
pretty classic, kept to himself, neighbors don’t know much about him. He was killed in the blast? Yeah, four other people were taken to the
hospital with cuts and bruises, one person has a concussion. It could have been a lot worse, I guess, although
we don’t really know what he was doing. First thing we need to figure out is was this
a meth lab accident or bomb making? Well he wasn’t careful, whatever it was, whatcha
got? Hydrogen peroxide I don’t see any Pseudoephedrine. I say it looks more like explosives than meth. This is from a beauty supply store. Let’s get a picture of Brown and canvas the
local beauty supply businesses… Receipts, Looks like we’ll be making a few
stops with this shopping list. I’m Special Agent Williams, and this is Special
Agent Barber with the FBI. We’re investigating the explosion that happened
at the Belvedere Apartments last night. We’d like to ask you a few questions. Do you recognize the man in this photo? Wait a minute; was he a terrorist or something? You know, I knew something wasn’t right about
this guy. We’re not sure what he was just yet, What wasn’t right? Well, for one, I’d never seen him before and
I know most people in this business from this area, you know? And what was he looking to buy? Oh, he wanted hair developer, and he asked
for the highest volume. Hair developer, that’s a high concentration
of hydrogen peroxide? Yep, volume is beauty salon talk, the higher
the volume in hair developer, the more the peroxide. Did he want anything else? Oh yeah, he also wanted a lot of acetone,
you know, nail polish remover? And that’s when I started thinking “something
must be up with this guy.” So I started asking him simple questions,
like, what shop did he work at, where did he get his training. I thought this guy must do a whole lot of
dye jobs to need that much peroxide. You didn’t like his answers? Honey, he didn’t give answers. He just said never mind about the acetone
and then when I said I’d need to see some ID if he wanted to pay by credit card, he
pulled his credit card away and pulls out a whole wad of cash. Did he, I mean, no one got hurt, right? Yeah, I recognize him. Is this about that explosion? How did you know he was here? We found a receipt in a lot of shopping bags. Makes sense, he bought a lot. Yes ma’am. Do you remember what he wanted? I do. He was over by the pool sanitizers and he
just stood there for a really long time, looking at the backs of bottles. He’d pick one up and put it back, then the
next one, same thing. I could tell he was looking for something
and not finding it, so I asked him if he needed help. He said he needed a pool cleaner with hydrogen
peroxide. I told him you mean the chlorine free shock
over there. He said, no, I want the one with hydrogen
peroxide. I said that is the one with hydrogen peroxide,
the chlorine based chemicals don’t have peroxide, but they can clean just as well. But, he didn’t even look at the Chlorine based
shock after I said that. He said thanks and started looking at the
back of the chlorine free bottles, the ones with hydrogen peroxide. I asked if he needed anymore help, he said,
no he just needed the strongest stuff…his pool was really bad. Was there anything else? Most of the time people have their pools open
way before the 4th of July. I thought that was kinda strange, but I figured
he’d have a week to get it all set. But what made me remember him was that I asked
him about the size of the pool and he was vague. He just said it was big and that he needed
a lot of stuff. I don’t know any pools in this area that need
that many bottles, he took nearly everything off the shelf. I see. I mean, I knew it was strange at the time
but I didn’t know what to do about it. It was maybe…. four days ago? It was the day my normal floor man was out;
I don’t always spend as much time with customers. But you spent time with him? Yeah. I remember his hands especially. His hands? Yeah, he had these… blotchy areas on the
backs of his hands. Like he had been working with some serious
bleach. Or Peroxide? Yeah maybe. Anyway he was looking to buy a pretty large
amount of fertilizer, in particular ammonium nitrate. I asked him if he had a dry place to store
it. And he said he did. I asked him how many acres he was looking
to take care of, he said he wasn’t sure, he was working for somebody else. Who is it, I asked, maybe I know him, and
again he gives me this ‘mind your own business’ look. Really friendly guy, huh? Yeah, so I try a little small talk with him
and ask him how he’d deal with all of the clay that’s in the area’s dirt. He kind of ignored the question, says he’s
not worried about it, that it’s not his problem. He didn’t seem to know too much about farming
or agriculture. Or at least he didn’t want to talk about it. If I didn’t ask a question I don’t think he
would have said a word except to make the purchase. Well asking questions definitely helps identify
suspicious behavior. We actually have this poster that gives your
employees helpful hints on how to identify and handle any strange situations. Oh that’s helpful. Yeah, I’ll put it up in the break room and
talk to my employees about it. You know what’s really strange? I asked him where he wanted the ammonium nitrate
fertilizer delivered and he said he’d send a rental truck for it — the truck still hasn’t
come. I wouldn’t hold your breath. The initial search of his computer is done. He had a home improvement store and pharmacy
on the west side of town. Well that’s not surprising; those places have
lots of chemicals and equipment that could make improvised explosives. Actually, there are several different types
of stores where a terrorist could buy that kind of stuff. Brown could have been even more discreet about
the ones he did buy. Agreed. Still, it’s weird, that guy stuck out in one
way or another to everyone we spoke to, but not enough to call the authorities. Well, it’s tricky. Nothing illegal was happening, and we always
want to give people the benefit of the doubt. The trick is after the suspicious encounter
you should write down details about the transaction like what time it was, what he bought, any
information that might help identify the customer like their name, physical description, license
plate, phone number — anything. Right. Then they can share that information with
law enforcement, they can call their security manager if they have one, or they can call
direct. Reporting suspicious activity can be confidential;
it doesn’t mean that you’re accusing anyone. It just means something doesn’t feel right. That’s it, trust your gut and let investigators
figure out if there’s anything to worry about. Even if it was nothing, at least you were
being careful. It’s a lot safer for everyone else in the
community. I’m John Perren, Assistant Director of the
FBI’S Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate. The video you just saw highlights the vital
role the private sector serves in the FBI’s efforts to counter terrorist attacks. Your expertise and experience is essential
to increasing our understanding of potential WMD threats in the United States. Everything you do to control your oversight
of chemical dangers makes everyone safer and your willingness to report suspicious activities
at your facilities to law enforcement is critical to securing the country against these threats.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *