Monitoring Those Thieving Employees
By Tom Ryan
With billions of dollars being stolen from grocery stores by employees, retailers are increasingly having their security cameras aimed directly at cash registers. The monitoring is expected to ward against employees using a scheme called “sweethearting,” which involves giving away merchandise usually to family or friends by not scanning it.
According to a CNBC report, sweethearting represents $13 billion of the $20 billion store employees steal in merchandise each year. Working with a person disguised as a paying customer, cashiers pretend to scan merchandise, but deliberately bypass the scanner, thus not charging the customer for the merchandise.
StopLift Checkout Vision Systems is a provider of cameras that record checkout lines at grocery stores. CEO Malay Kundu said his company’s software, which constantly monitors 100 percent of the security video, flags the transaction as suspicious and quickly reports the incident, identifying the cashier and the date and time of the theft.
“Our software watches the cashiers,” Mr. Kunku told CNBC. “It analyzes the body motions of the cashier. It watches and analyzes how the items move across the scanner, or don’t move across the scanner.”
Mr. Kunku said supermarkets with already thin profit margins are particularly vulnerable to sweethearting, which accounts for an almost 35 percent profit loss industry-wide. Supermarket chains currently using StopLift include Safeway, Hannaford and Big Y. His goal is to have such security cameras become standard across retail.
“We actually have video in which the customer high-fives the cashier,” said Mr. Kunku.
Discussion Questions: What are the pros and cons of installing security cameras to monitor cash registers and store employees? Has this action become necessary to fight shrink or is it overly intrusive?