2020-08-13 10.22.06

So, everyone will have CCTV in their stores now! Unfortunately it has become a basic requirement for us all.

Times have changed and the Police and their response to shoplifting and in-store violence have also changed. As I’m sure you will have found out, if the value of the goods is less than £50, you will be lucky if the Police will even give you a crime reference number. So how we handle these problems has also had to change.

One of the most successful changes we have made is to change our CCTV camera placement. We still have general overview cameras in our store, but now we have “Face Shot” Cameras. These cameras have one soul focus, getting that elusive face shot! If like me, you have discovered that getting a good face shot is much harder than you first think.

We have therefore placed cameras is some new locations to great effect. Two cameras are now fixed to our Lotto scratch card dispenser, one on each side, with the cables run down the rear side and under the counter. They are pretty much at eye level giving us the most amazing pictures; we can truly see the eye colour and wrinkles.

Then we looked at our customer flows and worked out two locations customers passed when they enter a store. We focused on entry as a shoplifter will enter as normal, it’s the exit where they start running. So focus your resources in these areas. Cameras have been fixed to coffee machines, fruit and veg stands, Cook Freezers and even end of gondolas. All at eye level, get creative!

Before you say will they get vandalised – over a year later not one camera has been attacked. Plus we use vandal proof dome cameras. We actually use different colour cameras white, black and grey. These blend into the background, we don’t want to look like Fort Knox!

So what about face masks? Well we still get amazing shots. Without these new placements we genuinely would not stand a chance.

How does this change the impact as the Police don’t really want to know? Well we now report our crime online with the face shot ready to be uploaded. The system then gives us a crime reference number automatically. Then it turns out that most people have been unable to supply a good face shot, but ours have been so good they could be passport photos! Hampshire Police have used our cases to convict a lot of problem shoplifters as the evidence we supply is irrefutable. The cynical side of me thinks that they tried to create a set of criteria that most would not be able to meet? So what if everyone adapted and changed to exceed this? The rules may have changed, but the game is still the same…..