How Far Can Security Go to Stop Shoplifters?

By: John Honovich, Published on Jun 27, 2010

Can stores post images of suspected shoplifters on their store walls and demand significant fines? Is this defamation and extortion or simply an aggressive way to stop shoplifters?

Video surveillance and on-site security are common measures to address shoplifters. Generally, they are used in conjunction with the police and legal system.

A June 2010 NY Times article examines a trend where aggressive storeowners basically take matters into their own hands. A few key quotes:

"[Suspected shoplifters] are photographed holding up the items they are accused of trying to steal. Finally, workers at the store threaten to display the photographs to embarrass them, and to call the police — unless the accused thieves hand over money."

"New York State law allows “shopkeepers’ privileges” that fall somewhere between the prerogatives of the police and a citizen’s arrest. The law also details “civil recovery statutes,” by which retailers may use the threat of a civil lawsuit to recover substantial settlements for even minor thievery. "

Additionally, the NY Times reports that this is a practice used and transferred from China to the US.

Part of makes this so interesting is that this practice almost certainly 'works'. Those who do steal now face major negative consequences both in terms of reputation and financial impact. On the other hand, the risk that this violates privacy, due process and the law is high. What safeguards exist to protect those from shopowner mistakes or targeting innocent people?

Almost 300 reader comments to the NYTimes article [link no longer available] shows divided opinion on these risks with a strong contingent of commenters expressing a common American sentiment that this is the shopowner's right to do so.

Contrast this to the European approach and it's quite clear that this would be illegal in most Northern European countries. The clearest example of this more stringent approach is the UK's Data Protection Act. Indeed, the UK has an Information Commissioner's Office [link no longer available] dedicated to monitoring and enforcing such policies.

Where the 'line' is drawn almost will certainly depend on the country. However, this practice is an interesting case of how far one is willing to go in the security and surveillance methods.

Comments : Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

London Live Police Face Recognition Visited on Feb 13, 2020
London police have officially begun using live facial recognition in select areas of the UK capital, sparking significant controversy. IPVM...
France Declares School Facial Recognition Illegal Due to GDPR on Oct 31, 2019
France is the latest European country to effectively prohibit facial recognition as a school access control solution, even with the consent of...
Covert Elevator Face Recognition on Oct 24, 2019
Covert elevator facial recognition has the potential to solve the cost and complexity of elevator surveillance while engendering immense privacy...
UK Facewatch GDPR Compliance Questioned on Aug 27, 2019
Even as the GDPR strictly regulates biometrics, a UK company called Facewatch is selling anti-shoplifter facial recognition systems to hundreds of...
TMA Apologizes to Amazon / Ring on Aug 23, 2019
Not only is Amazon / Ring making major incursions into the residential security market, the organization representing the biggest incumbents, The...
First GDPR Facial Recognition Fine For Sweden School on Aug 22, 2019
A school in Sweden has been fined $20,000 for using facial recognition to keep attendance in what is Sweden's first GDPR fine. Notably, the fine is...
Bank Security Manager Interview on May 15, 2019
Bank security contends with many significant threats - from fraudsters to robbers and more. In this interview, IPVM spoke with bank security...
San Francisco Face Recognition Ban And Surveillance Regulation Details Examined on May 14, 2019
San Francisco passed the legislation 8-1 today. While the face recognition 'ban' has already received significant attention over the past few...
Restaurant Security Manager Interview on May 06, 2019
Wright’s Gourmet House in Tampa, Florida has been around for over 50 years. During most of that time, there were no security measures in place. Now...
UK Camera Commissioner Calls for Regulating Facial Recognition on Apr 15, 2019
IPVM interviewed Tony Porter, the UK’s surveillance camera commissioner after he recently called for regulations on facial recognition in the...

Most Recent Industry Reports

FLIR New Coronavirus Prioritized Temperature Screening Camera Examined on Apr 03, 2020
FLIR has announced a new series of thermal cameras "prioritized for entities working to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 virus", the A400/A700...
ADI Branch Burglary on Apr 03, 2020
A security systems distributor branch is an odd target for burglary but that happened this week at ADI's Memphis location. Vehicle Smash &...
YCombinator AI Startup Visual One Tested on Apr 02, 2020
Startup Visual One, backed by Silicon Valley's powerful Y Combinator, aims to be "Your 24/7 Watchman" with advanced analytics and object...
Free IPVM Memberships For The Unemployed on Apr 02, 2020
IPVM is giving 3-month free memberships (regular price $99) for the unemployed, no questions asked. To get it, just contact us, your request...
Dahua Faked Coronavirus Camera Marketing on Apr 01, 2020
Dahua has conducted a coronavirus camera global marketing campaign centered around a faked detection. Now, Dahua has expanded this to the USA,...
Video Surveillance Trends 101 on Apr 01, 2020
This report examines major industry factors and how they could impact video surveillance in the next 5 - 10 years. This is part of our Video...
USA's Seek Scan Thermal Temperature System Examined on Apr 01, 2020
This US company, Seek, located down the road from FLIR and founded by former FLIR employees is offering a thermal temperature system for the...
Terrible Convergint Coronavirus Thermal Camera Recommendation on Apr 01, 2020
A week after Convergint disclosed falling revenue, pay and job cuts, Convergint is touting 'extensive research' that is either grossly incompetent...
The IPVM New Products Online Show April 2020 Opens With 40+ Manufacturers on Mar 31, 2020
IPVM is excited to announce the first New Products Online show, with 40+ manufacturers, to be held April 14 to the 16th, free to IPVM members,...