John Middleton, who runs a company called ShopEase, has contacted me several times with tips on cheap solutions to hardy perennial posers.

Now, he writes: "It's bizarre that each time I feel compelled to write to you, it's on the subject of price. Previously, I've disagreed over the price of epos and then news-agency software - now I see mention in your column of £500-ish for a CCTV system (C-Store, November 28)."

He adds: "If a retailer owns a computer he is halfway to a CCTV system, too. A quick Google for LAN cameras reveals an abundance of candidates for about the £30 mark. These cameras hook up to the PC, whose monitor can be utilised to watch the action and its hard or DVD drive used to record."

He points out that it doesn't end there. "If the retailer has a broadband internet connection, he can sit on a beach in Miami, eating his turkey-and-stuffing buttie, while watching his minions slave away in his shop." (I like the picture.)

"If said computer happens to be an epos system, then when a product is scanned, its description can be superimposed over the LAN camera image," says John.

"So our retailer needn't interrupt his break if he espies a punter in his shop intending to purchase an expensive single malt and worry that his not-so-honest assistant, left manning the till, might attempt to scan a packet of chewing gum instead of the tipple, in the hope of pocketing the difference." (Not such a good picture.)

John points out that retailers must have the appropriate licences under the Data Protection Act to record in their shops and should know that cameras cannot be sited anywhere which may infringe privacy (and this often means the pavement outside the store).

John does not sell the LAN cameras - only the epos systems to which they can be cheaply and easily hooked up.