The Use of Hidden Cameras to Combat Retail Loss

Judiciously placed hidden cameras can help solve shrinkage problems

Retail loss is a serious problem for most stores. Shoplifting and employee theft add up to billions of dollars in loss for retailers across the United States. While standard surveillance systems are effective at preventing a fair amount of retail shrink, potential shoplifters and thieving employees quickly learn where the cameras are located and figure out the blind spots. Supplementing your existing surveillance system with hidden cameras and even body-worn cameras can cover those blind spots and keep would-be thieves guessing. It's no wonder that department stores, jewelry shops, electronics stores, and other retailers rely on these surveillance solutions to protect their inventory. Let's take a closer look at the benefits of using covert cameras in a retail setting.

Deterring Shoplifters

An experienced shoplifter can outwit many standard surveillance systems. Potential thieves take the time to scope out their target and determine the locations of security cameras before they strike. Using a hidden camera in a store's blind spots makes it easy to catch shoplifters in the act. In addition to fighting petty shoplifters, covert surveillance can also help shut down more serious organized retail crime operations. Without the help of a professional investigator, it can be difficult to break up these operations, in which criminals often conspire with employees to create a distraction and steal valuable merchandise. An investigator can arm himself with a camera to capture the evidence he needs to bring these criminals to justice.

Keeping Employees Honest

Hidden surveillance cameras don't just prevent shoplifting, they also play a big role in deterring employee theft. Theft of cash and merchandise by employees is a problem that seems to grow more common with each passing year. In fact, research has shown that businesses lose more than $50 billion each year due to employee theft. Employees know the layout of a retail store better than anyone, and they know where the security cameras are located. Hidden cameras that are built into common items such as smoke detectors, electrical boxes, clocks and other nondescript devices will escape the notice of even the most observant thieves. Using these hidden surveillance cameras keeps store employees from taking advantage of blind spots and helping themselves to merchandise.

Improving Efficiency

Not only can a hidden camera system help retailers reduce merchandise theft, but they also help improve efficiency. When employees aren't being watched, they're more likely to slack off on their duties, leave the premises to run errands or spend excess time on the phone. Employers lose a significant amount of money each year paying employees for work that isn't getting accomplished. With an effective surveillance system, it's easier to make sure company time is being used wisely.

Best Practices for Covert Camera Usage

In order to use hidden cameras to their maximum potential, a few common-sense precautions need to be taken. Purchasing cameras with poor resolution can leave retailers with video footage that provides no facial recognition and wouldn't be valuable in court. It's worthwhile to invest in quality cameras with higher resolution. Placing cameras too far away can also result in poor-quality footage. It's important for retailers to check the condition of their hidden cameras regularly and make repairs when needed.

Are Hidden Cameras Legal?

Some store owners are reluctant to add hidden cameras to their surveillance system for fear of getting into legal trouble. Covert surveillance devices are perfectly legal in a retail setting. They are subject to the same privacy laws as traditional security cameras. Most state laws say that security cameras can't be placed in areas where customers and employees have a "reasonable expectation of privacy" such as a bathroom. Retailers should also be aware that the use of a microphone is strictly forbidden in a covert surveillance system. All laws are subject to change over time and can vary among states. It's best to consult with an attorney if you have any questions about your store's surveillance solution. Click here for more info.

Research has shown that up to 68 percent of all retail shrink is actually preventable. It's clear that hidden camera usage as part of your surveillance system can go a long way toward preventing this retail shrinkage. Well-placed security cameras have been proven to reduce both shoplifting and employee theft. With the addition of hidden or body-worn cameras, retailers can truly keep employees and potential shoplifters on their toes. Think of these covert cameras as an insurance policy on your inventory. The investment will pay off in retained merchandise and even increased productivity.

Published September 3rd, 2021