How Far Can Security Go to Stop Shoplifters?

Author: 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 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 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 : PRO Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports on Police

IACP 2018 Police Show Final Report on Oct 08, 2018
IPVM went to Orlando to cover the 2018 IACP conference, the country's largest police show (about as big as ASIS), examining the 700+...
Evidence Of Hikvision's Involvement With Xinjiang IJOP And Re-Education Camps on Oct 02, 2018
IPVM reveals as-yet unreported details about Hikvision’s activities in Xinjiang - a region of China where massive human rights abuses are being...
BluePoint Aims To Bring Life-Safety Mind-Set To Police Pull Stations on Sep 20, 2018
Fire alarm pull stations are commonplace but police ones are not. A self-funded startup, BluePoint Alert Solutions is aiming to make police pull...
Congressional Letter Urges Sanctions Against Dahua and Hikvision For Human Rights Abuses on Sep 04, 2018
17 US Congresspeople sent a letter to the Secretary of State and Treasury urging sanctions against Chinese officials plus Dahua and Hikvision,...
France Political Scandal Reveals Video Surveillance Problems on Aug 22, 2018
In what French media describes as "the most damaging crisis yet for" French President Marcon, a political scandal has revealed major gaps in the...
Hikvision Wins Chinese Government Forced Facial Recognition Project Across 967 Mosques on Jul 16, 2018
Hikvision has won a Chinese government tender which requires that facial recognition cameras be set up at the entrance of every single mosque...
Belgium Bans Private Facial Surveillance on Jul 06, 2018
Belgium has effectively banned the use of facial recognition and other biometrics-based video analytics in surveillance cameras for private,...
China Public Video Surveillance Guide: From Skynet to Sharp Eyes on Jun 14, 2018
China is expanding its video surveillance network to achieve “100%” nationwide coverage by 2020, including facial recognition capabilities and a...
French National Police Buy 10,400 Hikvision Body Cameras on May 31, 2018
France’s national police forces bought 10,400 Hikvision body cameras earlier this year, in a high-profile deal that’s coming into effect as the...
Amazon Enters Home Security Services on Apr 26, 2018
Move over ADT? It is certainly what investors have feared for ADT, especially since Amazon acquired Ring. [Update: We spoke with Amazon and have...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Hikvision Growth Declines Q3 2018 on Oct 22, 2018
Hikvision's growth continues to decline in 2018 going from: Q1 - 33% Q2 - 22% Q3 - 14.6% In this note, we examine Hikvision's newest Q3...
Geutebruck Company Profile on Oct 22, 2018
Geutebrück has been in business for nearly 50 years, but they are not well known within the US surveillance market. In this report, we profile...
Chinese Government Blocks IPVM on Oct 22, 2018
IPVM has been blocked by the Chinese government without any notice or explanation. This means IPVM.com is no longer officially accessible anywhere...
Startup SafePass Profile on Oct 19, 2018
A major problem with visitor management is that the systems mostly require adhesive printed paper labels and paper logs, creating waste and an...
China Is Not A Security Megatrend, Says SIA on Oct 19, 2018
The US Security Industry Association has released its 10 "Security Megatrends" for 2019. SIA declares that these megatrends, such as "Advanced...
Hanwha Dual Imager Dome Camera Tested (PNM-7000VD) on Oct 18, 2018
Hanwha has introduced their first dual-imager model, the PNM-7000VD, a twin 1080p model featuring independently positionable sensors and a snap-in...
Camera Height / Blind Spot Added to IPVM Camera Calculator on Oct 18, 2018
IPVM has added camera height and blind spot estimation to the Camera Calculator. This is especially helpful for those who need to mount cameras up...
Axis Strong US Growth, Flat EMEA - Q3 2018 Financials on Oct 18, 2018
This spring, Axis had its best financials in many years (see Axis Strong Q2 2018 Results). However, over the summer, Axis had many products sold...
Best Alternatives to Banned Dahua and Hikvision on Oct 17, 2018
With the US government ban and a growing number of users banning Dahua and Hikvision, one key question is what to use for low cost? While Dahua and...
Video Quality / Compression Tutorial on Oct 17, 2018
While CODECs, like H.264, H.265, and MJPEG, get a lot of attention, a camera's 'quality' or compression setting has a big impact on overall...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact