How artificial intelligence is being used to stop retail theft

For many retailers, the holiday season is the biggest time of the year, and with increased concerns about retail theft, many stores are deploying new tools to catch shoplifters.

One of these tools is artificial intelligence. Used at Lunardi’s, a Bay Area grocery store.

“We actually have an alert right now,” said Rick Sanchez, director of Lunardi.

The security system sent an alert to her phone showing a customer who might have taken a product and put it in her bag.

The system uses artificial intelligence software that scans security camera footage in real-time for potential shoplifting customer movements.

“Basically, we are training to see the cameras. We’re brainstorming,” says Hiren Mowji of Veesion, the French company that created the technology being used at Lunardi and several other stores nationwide.

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Veesion’s technology doesn’t take into account someone’s race, gender or how they dress. Instead, it alerts store staff if it believes a customer has taken a product and put it in a back pocket or backpack.

That employee can decide whether or not to approach and escort that person from the store.

Mowji also says that the artificial intelligence becomes more accurate over time as it collects data with each incident.

Sanchez says the system will catch at least one shoplifter a day in his store.

Veesion’s artificial intelligence system is just one example of the new high-tech tools retailers are using to stop crime.

More than half of stores are increasing their spending on security and loss prevention, according to the National Retail Federation.

“Unfortunately, crime also affects the price consumers pay and retailers want to pass on as many savings as possible to consumers, especially in a time when we’re driving inflation and theft and loss out the door,” says Jason Straczewski. National Retail Federation vice president of government relations and political affairs.

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According to the National Retail Federation’s 2022 Retail Security Survey, retailers report losing nearly $100 billion to retail crime.

Straczewski says part of the problem is that some police departments don’t make retail crime a high priority and thieves, especially crime rings that resell stolen goods online, take advantage of that.

“The signal was sent that you could walk into a store, steal the property, walk out the door and sell it somewhere else online for your own personal profit and no one would press charges and come after you,” Straczewski said.

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The National Retail Federation is pushing Congress to pass two bills by the end of 2022.

The Organized Retail Crime Act would create a Homeland Security task force to help law enforcement share information about organized retail crime.

The INFORM Consumer Act would force online marketplaces to verify third-party sellers, making it harder to sell stolen items.

“We’re adding a tool that can really help them fight organized retail crime. It’s a problem that’s not going to be solved overnight,” Mowji said.

Mowji sees his technology as necessary, but knows that some may consider AI intrusive.

“With the right guidance, we can introduce these technologies to small businesses and business owners and make the world a better place for everyone,” said Mowji.


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