By: Jesse Davis West August 02, 2017

retail violence and ORCRetail security experts like Gus Downing have declared that face recognition is on an inevitable path to retail adoption. The reason that retailers are investing in face recognition more aggressively than any other industry is typically to reduce external shrink due to shoplifting and organized retail crime. But what if it also has the power to radically reduce in-store violence? 

Organized retail crime is on the rise, and retail violence is climbing as well. As long as retailers continue to employ traditional, reactive loss prevention techniques, retail violence will most likely continue to soar.  Loss prevention professionals typically only stop crime when they catch people in the act of stealing, which often involves physically detaining them.  While most shoplifters and organized retail criminals are not looking to get into violent altercations, once they’re caught red-handed with stolen merchandise, they’re all-in. And they are often unwilling to get caught or return merchandise without putting up a fight.  

However, face recognition might just hold the secret to breaking this cycle of theft and violence. Based on our platform data, our retail customers are reducing external shrink by 20-30% using face recognition. And we’ve noticed a strong correlation between reducing crime and violence. In fact, our customers are seeing as much as 91% less in-store violence thanks to using biometric surveillance!  

The key to reducing violence seems to be identifying potential criminals before they have the product on their person. When loss prevention professionals know exactly who to monitor, they can simply observe people or offer customer service in order to discourage theft. Most people would much rather simply walk out of a store than risk a dangerous confrontation with a—potentially armed—security professional.  

So how can face recognition identify who loss prevention should be watching? According to Read Hayes, Director of the Loss Prevention Research Council, “Past behavior is the best predictor of the future.” Most shoplifters are recidivists. And by knowing who has stolen before, you can prevent them from stealing again. That’s why the first step of face recognition is building a facial recognition database of known shoplifters and violent criminals.  

The moment an individual walks into a store, loss prevention pros can receive instant alerts that tell them where to go, who to watch and what to do. These alerts can be personalized per individual. As an example, if a person enters who previously made violent threats to employees, might alert security to call 911. But when a suspected organized retail crime associate enters, it might simply advise retail security to approach that person and offer customer service. The goal of these tailored alerts is to further reduce violence by keeping security professionals away from those people most likely to have a violent incident.  

Reducing violence may not be the primary reason that retailers invest in face recognition. But as more and more retailers implement face recognition solutions to reduce external shrink, we expect them to be pleasantly surprised when in-store violence plummets in tandem.  

For more information about how you can reduce shoplifting, organized retail crime and in-store violence, watch our free on-demand webinar Face Recognition: The Inevitable Path to Retail Adoption.