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Browsing the show floor at the FMI Show in March 2008, Cory Deily, director of security and loss prevention at Reading, Pa.-based Redner’s Markets, Inc. wasn’t looking for a new security system. But once he saw the features available from 3VR
Security, Inc., he knew he had to test it.
“There are a lot of companies who say they have features like facial recognition, but then they don’t work and you can’ tell the difference between one person and another,” he told CSNews Online, a sister publication of Progressive Grocer. “But the features 3VR claimed to have actually worked.”
The company, which operates 40 grocery stores and 13 convenience stores, decided to pilot 3VR’s Intelligent Surveillance Platform in one of its grocery locations. Shortly after the pilot began, Deily was able to put the system’s capabilities to the test.
“We mad a pretty big apprehension that several big companies in the area were trying to get, including Safeway and CVS,” said Deily. “There was an ORC [organized retail crime] group doing shoplifting, and we were able to pull up the picture and identify the person. When they were apprehended at one of our other stores, they had more than $300 worth of merchandise on them.”
Currently the technology is installed in three of the chain’s existing convenience store locations and 10 grocery stores, but the goal is to have it in all locations by June 2010, said Deily. The company is also installing the system in all new store openings. While the hardware is retrofitted with the company’s existing cameras, the system also integrates with Redner’s exception-based reporting MICROS POS technology, something its previous security vendor wasn’t willing to do.
“It has really cut down our internal theft with the MICROS integration, and I can access the software from anywhere, because it’s Web-based,” he said. “I was on vacation in California and was able to review video and make a decision remotely.”
Another huge benefit is the ability to perform a variety of searches, which has drastically cut down the time needed to review videotape. “I can do a number of searches, including object motion or directional searches, and this, along with the facial recognition, cuts our investigation time in half,” Deily explained. “What used to take two hours can be done in a matter of minutes now.”
For example, one of the theft issues Redner’s deals with is fire extinguishers being stolen at the pump. With the new software, Deily can search object motion by highlighting the fire extinguisher, and the system will search the tape for times when there’s movement in that area, he said.
“We also do a lot of directional searches for people going out the in door, because the exit door is closer to the register. We have been able to identify people in a matter of seconds, and the police have caught them down the road from the store,” he noted.
In the future, Redner’s plans to use license plate recognition for stolen credit cards and vandalism issues at the pumps, which will not only help the company, but also assist area police departments, Deily said, explaining that it’s a matter of upgrading or repositioning cameras.
“The police may get a stolen credit card used at Walmart, Target and Redner’s, but they always come to Redner’s first because they know the technology we have,” he said. “The license plate recognition is the next step for us in working with them.”
Also, he would like to use people counting for the operations side of the business to see “how many people are in the store vs. how many people are actually making purchases,” he said. “We are tracking ROI now, and our goal is 30 percent for our first fiscal year.”