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Choice. Covert Surveillance or Overt?

Adrian Mudd   July 23, 2012

Retailers and business owners are faced with three choices when attempting to curb retail/employee theft. Is it best to use covert surveillance, overt solutions or both?

Failure to implement a robust risk management strategy, or more precisely, effective theft prevention, can result in the loss not just of a business but of everything that is owned: house, car, even the yacht, if you’re lucky enough to own one. Yes, crime prevention is a very serious part of any business operation and not a nice to have accessory.

Today, the focus is on Innovative spy camera technology which can make detection activity a pleasure rather than a headache. There are massive advances in crime prevention technology: wireless, automatic , manual and all in a myriad of sizes and prices to suit the crime prevention business needs. Sadly, the struggling economy over the last decade has facilitated a rise in retail crime.

Covert Surveillance for the Analysis of Workers

The Centre for Retail Research, evidences some interesting statistics in terms of shrinkage, particularly in the class of the thief or thieves. White collar and blue collar crime have always featured heavily in the theft statistics of the past, but recently there is an interesting rise in middle class shoplifting offences. The types of goods stolen are also changing to take account of on-selling preferences.

The latter point of re-sale is the underbelly of retail, the criminal black market and is the evil twin to the shoplifting team or individual. After all, there must be a customer on the end for large-scale retail losses to exist. This results in there being two points of contact where the issue can be contained – the point of theft and the point at which the goods are moved on or sold.

Large retailers can invest in covert operations resources. Many of these rely heavily on human input e.g. the store detective observes specific behaviour or has other good reason such as information in order to interfere with the theft process. However, management in smaller retail establishments often occurs through the simple process of retailers managing their shop layout; using simple, affordable tools provided by the latest crime prevention technology alongside the person based responses.

In this instance, the covert surveillance tool is as useful as overt surveillance. Hidden cameras can be used for monitoring staff activity e.g at the till point, but the actual shop floor space itself requires little in the way of covert dressing upon a camera. Prevention is definitely better than cure, however the camera should always be linked to an operational recording device in the event that evidence of criminal offence is required.

Surveillance and other Resources

In addition to covert surveillance spy cameras, the use of informative resources is also key, whether pictorial or written. Most people know the warning sign that spy cameras are in use on retail premises and less commonly, the signatures of unique i.d liquid which is painted on. Engraving and physical connections such as alarms are also examples of overt theft prevention devices. Implicit to the change in class of thieves, is the change in levels of education and intellect.

This requires intelligent responses in prevention through use of the very latest in crime prevention technology. Visit our online shop to browse and select from the latest technology or contact us to discuss your requirements. Thanks to Centre for Retail Research. To learn more about covert surveillance operations, contact the Spy Equipment UK team directly or via email.

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