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Theft is one of the oldest crimes in existence, and it doesn't seem to have stopped despite the advancements in technology and surveillance.
In fact, the rise of technology has actually emboldened people to swipe their goods as they perceive that faceless service means consequences are not as dire.
While there is a great scope to what is considered theft in Australia, it is interesting to see how each industry works to deter and prevent this crime and how behaviour changes based on societal changes.
Inventory control systems are wearing the brunt of supermarket theft, and really any environment wherein there is a Point of Sale system.
Modern solutions have RFID tool tracking which go a long way in identifying how a product is sold or in some cases, not sold.
Essentially, the RFID system is powered by IoT and collates the data to inform future stock orders and other decisions made by management and shop owners. So, what does this mean for retail theft?
Well, you might have noticed that your supermarket have RFID packaging for beauty items, baby items, homewares, and even some expensive cuts of meat.
Many experts have described self-service checkout theft as rampant, with an Australia and New Zealand Retail Crime Survey reporting an eye-watering $3.37 billion in theft over one year.
This certainly flies in the face of those who rationalise that Coles and Woolworths can afford the odd theft here and there, as this behaviour is equating to 57 per cent of stock loss linked to theft.
RFID is one of the strongest lines of defence.
There are some technologies that are in their infancy that are working to map a store and identify where there are dense pockets of foot traffic to alert staff to possible individuals thieving in a group.
This also has the additional benefit of taking the responsibility off a store person when they may be putting themselves in harm's way. Most stores will have a robust shoplifting strategy that will outline when the police are called, when to act, and why profiling is not a line of defence.
There are also times of the day that have more staff manned, and this is not necessarily due to more customers inside, but because these hours have been linked to peak shoplifting.
This may be after school ends for the day, or it might even be linked to the middle of the day. The retail operation and location will inform what these risk hours are.
Checking into a store with QR codes to show proof of vaccination may also deter shoplifting escapades. The threat of having a digital footprint in that store, or even the chance of a shop assistant seeing a name, might ruin the anonymity of self-service theft.
There have been many calls to regulate QR codes as police have been allowed to apply for and have access to check-in data, which may be a surprise to shoppers who think this information is only being accessed by health professionals.
Just like home robberies, a thief will case out a location. When stores appear organised, well-staffed and furnished with security cameras - they will likely be put in the too-hard category.
Stores have also designed strict refund and exchange policies, as pre-tool tracking times meant that a person could steal an item and then try and refund or exchange that item.
Cash register design and location have also been manipulated to make theft more difficult, which is why Kmart has boldly placed their checkouts in the middle of the store with open space between it and the exit.