Australia Department Store Group Uses Surveillance System to ID Shoplifters

With new security technology operating in its 68 stores, Myer, Australia’s largest department store group, has shown shoplifters that their game is up. For more than a year, the use of radio frequency tags and a new Geutebruck digital CCTV system, operated by well-trained staff, has proven extremely successful in enabling security staff to identify and report known shoplifters, suspicious behavior and coordinated activity among groups of individuals on their premises. The result is that most shoplifting suspects are now apprehended before leaving the premises.

Myer is delighted with this success although it did not happen overnight. Selecting the video security system took two years. The retailer’s previous video system had suffered from high fault levels and lower than expected performance, so this time Myer was determined to find one that would deliver on all its promises.  Following several pilot installations, a number of technical shootouts and a great deal of evidence-gathering Myer’s final choice was a system designed and installed by Secom TS. Supplied by Geutebruck Pacific, the system uses GeViScope-IP/SE platforms and around 6000 Sony 1.3 megapixel cameras. Myer commended Secom TS on its design work and proof-of-concept and judged the Geutebruck solution to excel in its fast and responsive video management. Myer also appreciated its user functionality with quick search and edit tools such as the ‘cut list’ and ‘motion search.’ 

In operation around the country during recent months, the new system has been convincing in practice too. Its high-quality images enable security staff to identify individuals, and its functionality makes easy work of spotting unusual behavior like people handling lots of different goods, hanging around for long periods, unplugging items or acting in concert. This can then be reported to store guards who shadow at close quarters, making their presence felt before offences are committed.

Besides the system’s general high technical quality, speed and reliability, much of the quality and convenience of the assistance that the store security staff experiences in its everyday duties is due to a handful of standard system and plug-in functions. One of these is activity detection, which triggers alarms and changes the recording parameters to predetermined settings when movement is detected in unexpected locations. Another much-used facility is the ‘Follow me’ function, which allows operators to quickly ‘drag and drop’ video of suspicious behavior from the monitor where it is first spotted to the central monitor of three on their console. Once there, the video is automatically recorded at high resolution for evidential purposes and retained for reference on a separate database. This ability to freely select and group multiple video streams from cameras all around the store makes it much easier for Myer staff to see interaction or collusion taking place between individuals in different locations. 

Besides loss prevention, Myer is finding that video images from the system are valuable for other purposes. For instance, if a shopper makes a claim against a store because of an accident, being able to prove with video images that the store had already drawn the hazard to shoppers’ attention and therefore fulfilled its legal obligations or that the accident did not happen as claimed can save the retailer considerable legal expenses. Also, images from one particular set of cameras in each store is available to marketing staff to check display compliance centrally without leaving head office. 
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