Deterring theft

When it comes to in-store security and protecting products, at Checkpoint we believe that prevention through deterrent is the best strategy.

Deterrent strategies will always be more welcome than detection technologies when it comes to trying to displace criminal activities from a store. Ideally, retailers want to avoid dealing with the aftermath of crime in-store, instead, it’s better to deter the act with a combination of techniques.


CCTV: a support rather than a solution

The primary effect of EAS systems is as a deterrent, adding another layer of risk for the criminal to overcome or face a higher chance of being detected. CCTV falls into that category too, however, with the wide proliferation of technology in everyday life, CCTV has in many respects become almost invisible to shoppers who are used to seeing security cameras on a day-to-day basis.

CCTV’s main contribution is to provide post-event visual clarification of what happened, how, and when. It also provides retailers with clues to the identity of those involved, although in many cases this proves difficult without significant investment in hardware.

So, in many ways CCTV doesn’t really deter theft, it just gives the retailer hope that they can catch those responsible. While this appeals to an individual’s sense of justice, it does little for those calculating shrink percentages and money lost through theft.


AI video: the future of CCTV?

AI video is increasingly being deployed to profile and determine customer behavior, confirm product selection and analyze payment processes. Certainly, this technology will be applied to some far-reaching applications in retail, however there are growing concerns in society around AI data collection and usage that may hamper its wider application.


Alternatives to technology

Many retailers choose to go down an altogether different route to deterring theft – contract guarding with security guards positioned in-store.

According to the Global Retail Theft Barometer studies, manned guarding forms the bulk of many retailers’ loss prevention budgets worldwide. While historically many companies may have had security personnel on their own payroll, this is becoming increasingly rare.

Contract guarding does offer some of the same benefits as employed staff, but it is difficult to guarantee the standard of guarding personnel and to measure their effectiveness. Also, there is a view that an outsourced guard is not really embraced as a key store staff member or as part of the store team, and long-term working relationships can be difficult to build.

While EAS, CCTV and contract guarding all have their pros and cons, at Checkpoint we believe that the complete solution incorporates aspects of all three. Working in parallel, these three methods of protection can balance out any weaknesses and offer some significant advantages to retailers.


Assessing risk and determining protection level

As not all stores or locations have the same risk profile as each other, the challenge for loss prevention is to build the correct level of protection and deterrent based on the store profile.

While delivering a deterrent is key, it’s certain that even with the best combination of technology, processes and human engagement, some criminals will still not be put off and will enter and steal from your store. At this point we are in the detection stage.


EAS detection – when deterrent isn’t enough

Back to the risk and reward dynamic as discussed in chapter 4, brazen ORC operators are unlikely to be deterred, but building a solution set that keeps most shoppers honest requires a real risk of detection that is clearly seen, communicated, and acted upon.

EAS falls into that category of a highly visible, audible technology that is commonplace and very well understood by consumers globally. There are very few shoppers around the world who do not understand the purpose and use of EAS. It could be said that EAS is one of the best-known security tools in retail.


More technology, lower shrink

Loss prevention is a multi-faceted approach with no “fix all” solution. But technology, if deployed correctly and managed accordingly, can certainly help retailers, whether deterring theft or catching those who persist. For retailers, it’s about finding the tactics that best suit their needs and reaching the right balance between technology and practical loss prevention solutions.


Next time…

We explore EAS systems in more detail, how they work, and how they contribute to loss prevention. If you ever wanted to know more about EAS security, make sure that you read the next chapter in this series.