One in 11 people in the United States is a shoplifter, and retailers are losing more than $13 billion a year in stolen goods, according to the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention. A more astounding statistic is that store employees account for 42.7 percent of the total theft.
These statistics need to be taken seriously. Often, when convenience store managers think about security, video surveillance is the system that comes to mind. However, video capture is primarily reactive, showcasing what happened after the fact. Video alone won’t provide the full story of what took place.
Today, security is becoming more about prevention than simple detection. Fortunately, many of the security challenges c-store managers face today can be mitigated with the incorporation of audio monitoring technologies.
The following are some examples of how audio can assist in protecting your business and helping minimize your losses:
Additional Evidence: Audio is a great resource to increase situational awareness and provide more evidence about a crime scene. Security microphones possess the ability to register key identifying intelligence, including names, accents and spoken languages, simply by hearing a suspect’s voice. Even if an intruder wears a mask during a robbery, audio monitoring is capable of utilizing any dialogue spoken before or after the crime to identify the suspect(s) in question.
Crime Deterrence & Loss Prevention: An audio solution can be used as a measure of prevention by being placed in high-interest areas of your store, such as above food stations. Additionally, audio can help identify employee fraud and losses your business may be incurring. If a microphone is mounted above the checkout counter, the audio will capture employees saying phrases like, “Since you’re my friend, you don’t have to pay for that.” Together, the verbal and visual recording will give you the necessary evidence to take action against employee theft.
Real-Time Response: If a two-way audio system is installed, individuals engaging in suspicious activity can be verbally addressed without the need of a security guard’s physical presence. Control room operators can dissuade suspects in real-time through two-way loudspeakers with statements like, “You’re being recorded” or “The police are on their way.”
Alarm Verification: Audio monitoring enables alarms to be activated based on sounds above a predetermined, adjustable decibel level. It provides secondary confirmation in the case of an emergency, robbery, security threat or other intrusion by allowing managers to simultaneously see and hear an occurring incident. By using audio to verify a report, convenience retailers can avoid false alarms, which saves time, money and important resources.
Business Operations Benefits: In addition to its security benefits, c-store managers can use audio to gain knowledge about their business operations. Audio grants supervisors the ability to ensure customer satisfaction and resolve in-store disputes. Through live audio monitoring, managers can evaluate interactions at the checkout counter in real-time to find out whether a customer is being dishonest or whether an employee wasn’t following protocol. The audio helps managers determine the appropriate course of action and gives insight into whether additional employee training may be needed to ensure optimal customer service.
Incident Detection & Intervention: One of the emerging technologies in the audio sector is audio analytics. There are many sound detectors available today that can analyze and identify a gunshot, breaking glass or car alarm. The value of these detectors is that upon sound identification, they can send an immediate notification to law enforcement or other security staff. In precarious situations where seconds matter, these notifications can increase safety for all involved by reducing the amount of time it takes first responders to arrive to the scene.
Additionally, aggression detection is another software that is gaining prominence. An aggression detector identifies the sounds commonly associated with physical aggression such as screaming, fear and anger.
Just as hearing is an essential facet of our five senses as human beings, audio is exceedingly crucial when it comes to securing a convenience store.
When considering installing an audio solution for your store, make sure to refer to your state’s policy on monitoring. In general, the law states that as long as there is no expectation of privacy such as in a public place or in a c-store that has clearly visible signage alerting people that surveillance is taking place on the premises, the monitoring is permitted.
Editor’s note: The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Convenience Store News.