Retail Workers Share Their Secret Codes

Retail stores have many codes to alert employees to danger or unusual circumstances without worrying customers. These messages cover a range of occurrences, from a building fire to calling in a threat, with a few meddlesome codes in between.

Retail is one of the most demanding and stressful job industries. There are positive aspects of working in retail (employee discounts), but there are also downsides (dealing with unruly customers). For the more calamitous events, secret codes are there to help. Whether it's a shoplifter or something more terrifying like a missing child, the systems alert employees to urgent situations. Stores can use these codes for a bit of fun and, on occasion, to save lives.

Photo: user uploaded image

  • If Someone Says 'Roger' Over The PA System, A Shoplifter Is Afoot

    Redditor /u/amzetty reported "Roger" is code for a shoplifter at the unnamed store where they work. 

    "Anytime we have a suspected shoplifter, someone announces, 'Roger, you're needed in (insert department),' over the PA, promptly followed by numerous bored employees showing up. It's all very subtle. Roger is the name of our store's pet turtle."

  • 'Code Adam' Means A Child Is Missing

    The universal code for a missing child is "Code Adam," though Target seems to use "Code Yellow" instead. The system got its name from Adam Walsh, the son of America's Most Wanted host John Walsh. Ottis Toole allegedly kidnapped 6-year-old Adam from a Sears department store in 1981 and later murdered him, which prompted John to start his series searching for wanted criminals.

    Though the code was born out of a terrible circumstance, the incident also led authorities to create a national system to track and detail the whereabouts of sex offenders in the United States.

  • 'Code Red' Means There Is A Fire In The Building
    Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Bobbie G. Attaway / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    'Code Red' Means There Is A Fire In The Building

    Redditor /u/PrincessMads posted a picture of an employee badge from Walmart. A "Code Red" means there's a fire somewhere on the premises. A Target employee message board confirmed the code has the same purpose at their stores, too.

    These codes tell employees the authorities are on their way and notify employees to evacuate.

  • 'Code Brown' Means A Shooting In The Store

    At Walmart, a "Code Brown" indicates a shooting in the store. In other locations, this code can refer to a general threat; it isn't limited to a shooting.

  • 'Code 99' Means Someone Found A Lost Kid Wandering Around The Store

    In contrast to the severity associated with a "Code Adam" or "Code Yellow," a "Code 99" at an IKEA store means a kid was found wandering alone in the store or hiding somewhere. Mental Floss interviewed two IKEA employees, Jana and Marie.

    Regarding a "Code 99," Marie said, "There are so many wardrobes to hide in or bed skirts to hide under. If a kid really wanted to be hidden, it would not be too hard."

  • 'Bruce Wayne' Alerts Loss Prevention To Potential Shoplifters

    Loss prevention is vital in any department store; the industry could salvage as much as $27 billion in revenue annually if all stores employed a loss prevention team.

    Redditor /u/blakemake revealed a code they used to signal loss prevention at his former store. 

    "I used to work at Nordstrom, and when they wanted LP to show up, they would page Bruce Wayne. But when the shoplifters got hip to that (yeah, I know), they started paging Barry Allen."