Shoplifting causes shrink for companies that is difficult to contend with financially. According to the National Retail Security Survey, U.S. retailers lost an estimated $46.8 billion to theft in 2017 alone.
Businesses are increasingly using theft prevention technology to boost profits. Some of these new shoplifting prevention technologies use computers, software and machines to detect theft. Not all technology designed to prevent theft is free from errors, which could result in unfair shoplifting charges.
Facial Recognition Software
Facial recognition software could connect an innocent customer with someone who has shoplifted in the past. The software is designed to recognize shoplifters from an extensive database by connecting the detected facial characteristics to photos stored in the database. This type of theft prevention technology could fail to identify the correct person if the individual is wearing accessories, such as glasses or a hat that could obscure or misidentify a person.
Facial recognition technology used by the FBI has wrongly convicted and incarcerated individuals for all types of crimes due to subjective estimates based on multiple corresponding characteristics identified by the software. Shape of the head, the jaw line, moles and ear characteristics are identified by facial recognition technology used for shoplifting prevention. Someone could be confused with a shoplifter simply because their major facial features match.
Radio frequency identification (RFID) technology involves installing chips into valuable products so items can be tracked before leaving the store, therefore preventing the product from traveling far without being paid for. RFID could result in unfair theft charges because store associates could forget to remove the chips during checkout and the paying customer could be accused of stealing merchandise.
Video Analytic Software
Video analytic software is used by businesses to detect suspicious activity, such as hiding merchandise, leaving without paying for products, or dishonest cashiers. Footage obtained from store security cameras is evaluated by the software to instantly detect suspicious activity, but no program is fallible. What the video analytic software identifies as product concealment could simply be a shopper reaching into a purse or bag to obtain a personal item.
Smart Display Technology
Companies are also using theft prevention technology that utilizes technological devices installed on store merchandise or amenities, such as with smart display technology or anti-push out systems.
Smart display technology flags valuable or commonly stolen products to instantly alert loss prevention employees, sometimes with an alarm. Customer amenities such as shopping carts can be manipulated with an anti-push out system, which operates with underground wires inside and surrounding the store that prevent carts from leaving by triggering a lock on the wheels.
Mobile POS Systems
Mobile point of sale systems allows employees to check out customers on the sales floor. With mobile point of sale systems, employees can more closely monitor customers for suspicious activity. It is beneficial for the company to have a heightened surveillance by using mobile point of sale systems, but this theft prevention technology could possibly lead to inaccurate theft charges from overzealous employees.
Theft Prevention at Checkout
Employee theft makes up a large portion of retail loss, and theft at the checkout counter is one of the prevailing problems among stores. This often occurs when a cashier is checking out a friend or family member and fails to scan items.
A Massachusetts startup company called StopLift tries to solve this problem for retailers with a service that combines overhead cameras and artificial intelligence that detects when products aren’t scanned at the checkout counter.
As an increasing number of retailers add self-checkout as an option, this type of technology could be key for retailers to prevent shoppers from sneaking items into their bags without scanning them. However, the technology is still relatively new and, as with other technologies, has a lot of room for possible error.
Accused, Charged or Arrested for Theft
Not every theft charge results in conviction. To avoid fines and incarceration for shoplifting, you need an aggressive defense from an experienced Houston shoplifting lawyer and former prosecutor. Lisa Shapiro Strauss has nearly 20 years of experience and can help you fight shoplifting charges. For a free consultation, call 713-449-9922.