Department Store Security Badges

Thanks to the generosity of corporate security veteran Lloyd Joseph Mecca, who is an avid collector of retail memorabilia and books, The Department Store Museum can display a collection of department store security badges.

The nostalgia for long-gone local retailers often focuses on memories of the stores' buildings, events, and employees, but the importance of the security staff who kept associates and customers safe while protecting the stores' investment in merchandise should not be overlooked..  In a very real way, these employees helped keep prices reasonable for the shoppers who patronized America and Canada's memorable department stores.

Actually, if you got too close to one of these badges, it meant you could be in a fair amount of trouble!  For other customers, the familiar uniformed personnel who wore these badges offered a vision of security, service and protection that was also supported by a less-visible plain-clothes staff, who may have carried the badges in their pocket as identification and a sign of authority.

Store Detectives

The grand emporiums of early America featured here all displayed goods openly throughout their shops and then, as now, individuals often helped themselves to the goods and departed without tendering payment.

At the time, the owners, who in almost all cases were active in their shops, realized that something would have to be done about this issue, or they would go out of business.

As a result, the owners utilized their “floorwalkers”, as they were then known and one of the tasks of these multi-talented individuals was to walk throughout the shop on the lookout for “lifters” of merchandise. To be sure, they had other duties, such as timekeeping, information, overseer of employee conduct, and a buffer between employees and irate shoppers.

After a time, they hired off duty local police, or “private detectives”. Between 1890 and 1910, stores began to hire individuals specifically as security directors and store detectives. Over time, they were known as “special service”, “store detectives”, “special police” and in modern times, “asset protection” and “loss prevention”.

Today’s loss prevention employee is an experienced investigator, utilizing a myriad of equipment and techniques to protect the store from employee and customer theft, supply chain losses, and organized retail crime. Many hold certifications recognizing their skills in interviewing, investigations, physical security, loss prevention, and management.

(Contributed by Lloyd Joseph Mecca)

Abraham & Straus
Bonwit Teller
Lord & Taylor
May Co.
Stern Brothers
Strawbridge & Clothier
John Wanamaker
Woodward & Lothrop


  1. Great blog on various collection of security badges.Very well researched and described info on security badges.Try out the Smith & Warren Visual Badge Builder or the Blackinton Design-A-Badge Builder to design and create your custom badge.

    security badges| police badges

  2. I also have a collection of loss prevention and store detective badges. I would be happy to share pictures of them if you would like to include here.

  3. Thank you, Jacy! E-mail me at -Bruce

  4. you should start a employee name badge department i can start you out with a daytons and a oneils

  5. I have a few that I can share photos of if you would like to see.

  6. I'm still in possession of my S&C badge along with my ID!


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