Examining Retail Theft Numbers for Video Surveillance

By John Honovich, Published Sep 07, 2009, 08:00pm EDT

Retail theft numbers are important for video surveillance providers to make their case for improved ROI. These numbers provide the basis and maximum potential for impact of new system deployments.

Hayes International has released survey results on retail theft and apprehensions [link no longer available] for 22 major US retailers.

While the numbers provide some benefits, users should be cautious in what numbers to highlight.

Specifically, the top line numbers of theft and apprehension are not representative of the United States. The survey only includes retailers who generate a total of $570 Billion USD revenue. By contrast, Wal-Mart alone generates $400 Billion USD annual revenue and the US total retail market is closer to $3 Trillion USD.

Averages for Thefts and Apprehensions Provided

There are a few statistics that are quite useful as basic assumptions in generating ROIs for video surveillance.

Specifically, Hayes International reports:

  • The average case value of a theft is approximately $200 USD
  • The average hours spent per apprehension is 60
  • Only 2.5% of theft is recovered ($6 Billion USD stolen but only about $150 M USD recovered)
Given the high numbers of hours spent per apprehension, if you have a technology that can reduce time spent per apprehension, the ROI may be significant.
The average value of a theft figure may be used to calculate how much money a video surveillance system can save by reducing thefts (e.g., $200 USD x number of thefts reduced). However, retailers may be skeptical of such projections as it's hard to verify/determine what caused a reduction.

Finally, the fact that so little theft is recovered is both an opportunity and a warning to those who claim to improve investigations. It's rare and obviously difficult to recover stolen retail goods once they leave the store. This is why so much more value is placed on preventing or stopping thefts rather than solving.

1 report cite this report:

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