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Exclusive: Kroger targets crime with video technology

Mike Lamb
Mike Lamb, VP asset protection & safety, Kroger.

The Kroger Co. is utilizing real-time video monitoring to detect and prevent organized retail crime incidents in its stores.

Chain Store Age recently spoke with Mike Lamb, VP, asset protection & safety at Kroger, about why and how the Cincinnati-based grocery giant is leveraging live video and surveillance solutions from LiveView Technologies to combat the rising threat posed by organized retail crime.

What kind of issues was Kroger having with organized retail crime?
Theft has always been problematic for retailers, but organized retail crime (ORC) is a major contributing factor to the overall shrink challenges the industry faces today. In an inflationary environment and concerns regarding a recession, the demand for lower-priced goods accelerates—but so does the market for stolen goods.

Commodities like formula, meat, and health and beauty products are known to be heavily targeted by ORC. What’s more, retailers are contending with “boosters,” or shoplifters with intent to resell, and ‘fences’ that purchase stolen items to repackage for sale online, or even back to the retailers themselves. At Kroger, we recognize the growing problem and are actively investing in both the people and technology to mitigate it. 

[Read more: Business group tells Congress: Retail theft a ‘national crisis’]

Why did Kroger decide to implement LiveView Technologies (LVT) live video and surveillance technology?
We are actively investing in an integrated and connected ecosystem of solution providers to ensure a safer Kroger for our customers, employees, and community.

The overt, physical presence of LVT’s mobile security units and cameras in our parking lots provide the added benefit of deterrence—which has shown to help retailers to materially decrease parking lot incidents. Uniting LVT’s real-time surveillance technology with our broader ecosystem makes us all more effective when it comes to combating ORC.

How can live video/surveillance technology deter retail crimes before they occur? 
It’s important to remember that retailers will never be able to eliminate ORC entirely—there will always be an element of risk and considerations to take into account that protect the customer experience. However, bad actors that encounter even a limited amount of resistance in the form of deterrence often turn away when they see a large surveillance security tower like LVT’s in our parking lots or store entrances.

For Kroger, it’s about prioritizing where we have the biggest opportunities to leverage the people and technology resources to ensure safety is at the forefront of everything we do. Nothing in a store is worth getting hurt over.

Are there any future plans for this technology you can discuss?
If you think about the concept of a surveillance tower in a parking lot or at store entrances, and you combine it with other technologies—you have the potential to create an enhanced and more robust solution that also provides retailers with prosecutable evidence.

For example, a cart locking up at a store exit because merchandise hasn’t been paid for could trigger LVT cameras to zoom in on the door, and even follow bad actors through the parking lot to determine which way they went or the type of car they drove away in. Now imagine adding in video matching software to help identify habitual bad actors, and you have a well-packaged criminally evidenced case for law enforcement.

That’s what we’re building toward with an integrated ecosystem approach—we aim to be on the cutting edge of leveraging how we connect each respective solution provider to add more value to their service offerings and the Kroger organization. When I can introduce a piece of technology that not only enhances the customer experience but improves stock while helping control loss, that’s arguably a winning combination.

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