The weekend of August 5-6 was a bitter reminder of the fact that retail violence is spiraling out of control (see stories from Wal-Mart, Food 4 Less and elsewhere below). The weekend saw customers, store owners and employees suffering violent deaths or injuries. Sadly, weekends like these are increasingly common. Many are also preventable.
Economic forces are creating a perfect storm in retail that are putting shoppers, employees and police in harm’s way. Shoplifters are getting more aggressive, and store personnel are trying to stop them during the act. As D&D Daily Publisher Gus Downing recently reported, “publicly reported robbery rates are up 33% since 2015 and publicly reported retail violent deaths are up 12%. And for the first time ever, more customers and employees are being killed than criminal suspects.”
It doesn’t have to be this way. Biometric surveillance systems can stop crimes before they start by alerting in-store personnel when known shoplifters and other violent criminals enter the premises. In almost all cases, simply approaching the offender and offering customer service (or alerting law enforcement) prevents both the theft and the violence from occurring. FaceFirst customers have reported a decrease of in-store violence of 91%.
Now let’s take a look at some of the violence that occurred over the weekend.
Food 4 Less Stabbing
At Food 4 Less, a security guard was stabbed to death for attempting to stop a man from stealing beer in the Sylmar neighborhood of the San Fernando Valley. The guard followed the suspect outside and there, a confrontation occurred that ended in the guard losing his life. Thankfully, the perpetrator was arrested by the police.
We see this pattern again and again. A suspect is caught stealing, the guard intervenes and violence occurs. Face recognition, however, offers a way to identify potentially violent individuals the moment they enter a store. Often, by simply offering them proactive customer service or watching them vigilantly, they are dissuaded from ever attempting to steal in the first place.
A store owner’s son in Fresno has been shot and killed after attempting to stop shoplifters. This upsetting incident serves as a reminder of how dangerous shoplifters can be when caught in the act, especially after they have been identified stealing. It’s so important to proactively prevent shoplifting before these incidents occur.
Close Call at Wal-Mart
Shoppers and police alike narrowly escaped injury in a Wal-Mart shoplifting incident. During a theft in progress, the getaway vehicle made evasive moves to avoid police that involved driving at high speeds, which nearly ran over shoppers. A heroic police officer stepped in front of the vehicle and drew his weapon, pointing his firearm at the suspects. The car stopped at the last moment, right as it was touching the officer’s legs. Luckily no one was hurt, but someone easily could have been.
Outdated Surveillance Technology vs Face Recognition
Traditional security surveillance systems have not fundamentally changed in years, and the presence of cameras clearly does not deter retail crime. As many of America’s retail CEOs are struggling to compete with Amazon, this has put more pressure than ever on loss prevention professionals to reduce shrinkage. Let’s hope that America’s CEOs will invest in technology that not only prevents theft, but also saves lives.
No one should have to die because they shopped or worked at a retail store.