EXCLUSIVE: Leveraging LPR to enhance crime prevention

Store in holiday season - using LPR to prevent loss

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Investment in license plate recognition (LPR) can help to protect people, stop loss and reduce violence this holiday season, says Bobby Haskins, Vice President of Retail Partnerships at Auror.

Retail crime

The holiday season is here.

Black Friday sales have been and gone, security risks have been assessed and plans have been established by security professionals to provide retailers with the best protection over this joyous, but tense, part of the year.

It’s needed – retail crime is a focus area for leadership around the world. It’s impacting on-shelf availability and profit like never before.

However, beyond the dollars and cents, the risk is higher when it comes to people and their safety.

Violence and aggression in retail is on the rise across the US. In fact, since 2021, Auror data has shown a 140% increase in violent and serious behavior by repeat offenders and a 257% increase in the same behavior by new offenders in the US.

So what does this mean for retailers and security professionals?

This organized retail crime is playing out across the US and it’s a worrying trend.

Retailers are self-insured, which means the cost of increased organized retail crime and the associated violence transfers to the customer.

For every new security guard that’s hired to closely monitor the retail environment to stop crime and protect people, customers are impacted with higher grocery bills to pay for it.

This experience continues as more merchandise is being placed behind locked doors in an effort to thwart repeat theft.

It isn’t sustainable and it isn’t necessary either.

By leveraging its retail crime intelligence platform, Auror has found that retailers are seeing 10% of offenders causing on average 60% of the loss and in some cases up to 95%.

This means a small number of repeat offenders are responsible for the overwhelming majority of retail crime.

That small number of offenders are also four times more likely to be violent in retail stores.

Through connecting repeat occurrences and therefore offenders, retailers can be empowered with the information they need to not only identify the individuals but change the way they operate to stop crime in their stores.

Instead of reacting to single instances of shoplifting, retailers can take a proactive approach to crime prevention and aggregating offending – even across counties and state lines.

Continuing to empower the retailer through LPR tech

With this data in mind, it’s no wonder that retail and security leaders are looking at what additional solutions they can deploy to stem the violence and keep retail environments safe for their loyal customers and associates.

License plate recognition (LPR) technology is one of those solutions that is gaining traction in the retail industry. It’s simple: it will detect whether a vehicle is entering a parking lot.

For many retailers, they’ll like the sound of this; they can install the additional cameras required, which will have optical character reader analytics that run on a standard CCTV camera, used to detect and read number plates of vehicles as they enter a parking lot.

However, for many retailers, this is where the hard work kicks in – because it’s just a plate with no actionable intelligence.

It isn’t going to tell you whether the vehicle is associated with previous incidents at your stores, it isn’t going to appropriately warn your associates if the individual connected with this vehicle is known to carry a weapon and it’s not quite the security safety net it made itself out to be.

Security and retail professionals need to be able to move from detection to actionable intelligence, connecting vehicles to their subjects and their associated offenses, including violent and threatening behaviors.

To do this, you need a single system for retail crime intelligence and LPR – this combination will provide you with a powerfully simple experience to stop crime and violence.

For security professionals considering how to use LPR and retail crime intelligence together, we put together a helpful overview of the ideal solution and what you should expect from it.

What to look for with combined LPR and retail crime intelligence

1. Control over your own infrastructure

You shouldn’t need to worry about new hardware decisions.

Many retailers will already have LPR-capable cameras installed, so you should look for a provider that integrates with your organization’s existing infrastructure.

You should continue to own the technology infrastructure you’ve invested in and our partners have indicated how important this was to their decision.

Your provider should be able to integrate with the majority of LPR-compatible cameras – like Axis, Hanwha, Adaptive Recognition, Milestone and others.

2. Easy to implement and integrate with existing workflows

Your LPR tech should integrate with your existing retail crime intelligence platform – this means previously reported events associated with known vehicles and already documented within the platform.

This will mean no major re-training to get started and your new LPR intel will be fed into existing integrations.

Your teams will be able to make connections faster and drive better results – because the familiarity will already be there.

3. Configurable and automated vehicle of interest (VOI) criteria

You’ll want your provider to ensure the platform is then surfacing data and insights that are relevant to your organization – not just anything and everything.

You should be able to enroll and update vehicles based on your existing safety strategy.

The platform should also have a rules engine that helps automate VOI enrolment from critical incidents.

4. Demonstrate ROI in reasonable time

If you continue to own and operate your existing camera network, you’ll be able to get started much faster and see an impactful return on your investment.

One of our retail partners saw a 411% ROI with a 165-day payback period.

5. Safer outcomes

The main outcome retailers are seeking when we talk about LPR is safety.

Specifically, security leaders want to understand how LPR is going to reduce threatening behavior and violence.

To do that, you need to configure the tech to your needs so you can capture evidence in the store, connect CCTV footage of individuals and their vehicles and bundle this into a report for secure collaboration – including offenses across multiple locations.

This is going to continue to prevent violence at scale and have the most impact.

We want to see safer retail environments this holiday season, reducing the violence and loss in stores and seeing a powerful and positive impact on local communities.

You can continue to outpace this growing retail crime problem, but it requires visibility and more actionable intelligence.

There is scope to supercharge your retail crime reporting and preventions with LPR technology, but you have to know what to look for. 

In action…

Using LPR

  • A large grocer was experiencing a particular individual harassing young women in its stores and car parks – even going so far to ask where they went to school
  • Using LPR and Auror’s retail crime intelligence, the retailer was able to be alerted when this individual was coming in and out of the car park, regularly attempting to stalk and harass these young women
  • The intelligence from Auror and LPR provided them with a clear picture of the threat and helped keep their team safe

Repeat person prevented

  • A large retailer received a VOI alert for a repeat person previously prevented from stealing over $1,000 in items
  • The team used intelligence from the Auror platform to reveal this person was connected to an additional 18 events worth $15,000 in loss
  • They went on to connect the VOI to two other retailers revealing another $6,000 in loss
  • Based on the quality retail crime reporting and combined impact of LPR, the retailer is now able to prevent future incidents by this repeat person

Faster outcomes for law enforcement and the wider retail community

  • A well-known retailer was using combined LPR technology and Auror’s crime reporting platform
  • The retailer provided law enforcement with the combined crime intelligence that would help secure the arrest of two repeat offenders on felony theft charges
  • A warrant was then obtained by law enforcement to obtain a tracking device on the vehicle used in the thefts based on this information
  • The vehicle was then tracked by detectives where they observed the individuals commit theft of just under $2,000 at a separate retailer
  • Law enforcement initiated a traffic stop and arrested the individuals for a total case value of $6,500 across at least two retailers

About the author

Bobby Haskins is a loss prevention expert, having spent the last 15 years in the industry, solving complex operational problems with technology.

Formerly of Target Corporation working in their Asset Protection team for ten years, Bobby now spearheads Auror’s key partnerships as VP of Retail Partnerships in North America and is always willing to discuss the overwhelming benefits of LPR, particularly when supercharged with retail crime reporting intelligence. Visit auror.co to find out more.

This article on executive protection was originally published in the December edition of Security Journal Americas. To read your FREE digital edition, click here.

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