We See You: Retail Crime Brings Video Security into Focus

By Bob Wallace July 26, 2013

With store robberies of money and drugs headed skyward, forward thinking retail chains are using video camera systems in new ways to take a bite out of crime, protect employees and aid law enforcement in identifying and apprehending bad guys.

Where once small cameras hid in corners of stores, occasionally not equipped with film or batteries, store owners such as CVS pharmacy chains  in New England, are taking a front-and-center approach to letting everyone know they are on candid camera as they enter its stores.

Driven by the low cost of TV displays and high-res video cameras, CVS’ combo system shows all who enter video of them doing just that as captured by the camera component of the new setup. Impossible to miss, the systems are designed to be a deterrent to even Darwin Award winners looking for quick cash and drugs.

Protecting Your Assets

In light of the Boston Marathon bombings, and many lesser crimes before and since, corporations are focusing more on video security and surveillance systems as a means of protecting their human and product assets while giving local and state police a better picture of the bad guys.

Combine this with the media’s growing love of video footage of criminals, and a week without a newscast featuring at least one person of interest in a crime, is like an hour without Internet access. This may cut job opportunities for police sketch artists, but it’s a safe bet that video is law enforcement’s better friend.

Mass Market

While in-building security systems are hardly new, cheaper and better video camera and small displays have driven their proliferation in the business world.

In fact, more affordable and simpler in-building security systems are spreading far beyond large retail chains such as CVS to much smaller, single-location businesses such as convenient stores, liquor stores, small pharmacies and restaurants.

As prices continue to drop and capabilities rise, look for video security systems to spring up in mom-and-pop businesses that can less afford losses than larger corporations.

Camera and storage-only systems can already be found at numerous retail electronics and club stores across the country. Adding a small TV screen to create a more robust system can be done by a wide-array of tech companies large and small. Corporations can employ IT staff to configure and deploy the setups.

High Stakes

In-building video systems strive to protect more than product on the shelves and capture those taking cash from registers. With robberies becoming increasingly brazen and violent, camera and TV display systems like the ones used by CVS can also protect employees and shoppers.

Further still, keeping the criminals out of the store also eliminates potential harm to law enforcement officers who respond to alarms for a robbery in progress.

The Components

In-building security systems have typically comprised a handful of wired or wireless video cameras, a main box-shaped unit which stores footage and comes with a DVR feature. The video cameras shoot (record) footage –some in low-resolution black and white and others in color HD.

Businesses without tech-savvy staff can call on a variety of retailers and IT firms to install, configure and test the system, which becomes more challenging when components such as TV screens are added or in deployments with a large number of video cameras.

Perhaps the most powerful capability that is added to these systems by service providers is the ability for individuals to control the system and monitor video in real-time from Web-enabled wireless devices such as smartphones and tablet computers.

Operators like Comcast, AT&T and Verizon already offer this capability to the broader home management services they are pitching to consumers.

The Bottom Line

While video security systems for businesses continue to evolve, changes in the way they are used makes perhaps a bigger difference for owners. Taken out of hiding and sight, and brought front and center to customer entrances, camera and TV screen combos should serve as a deterrent to crime.

CVS’ approach aims to show potential criminals that they are on a candid camera, and hopefully give them pause, before they begin to approach the many and precious assets inside.

Should they press on, police will have a far easier time identifying, and hence apprehending, the bad guys.

Edited by Rory J. Thompson

VP of Content

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