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Video surveillance for supermarkets

For as long as human society has existed, there has been the need to read minds. We wish we knew what Hitler was thinking way before he showed the world what that was. Till such a time that we can’t read minds, the best way of predicting the future behaviour of a human being would be to observe his/her actions. But, we know that a person changes his behavior when he knows he is being watched. Thus, the key is to watch them without them knowing it. Hence, we have video surveillance for supermarkets.

Video surveillance has been made necessary due to all-pervasive urban phenomenon of shoplifting. Petty thieves often flick anything from cereal to a nifty little laptop computer. Even celebrities have been caught shoplifting, just for the thrill of sneaking out unnoticed. Whatever the reasons may be, the supermarket surely doesn’t want unintended free samples tiptoeing out their doors. Video surveillance isn’t just useful for watching people who shoplift; a keen observer can also detect potential shoplifters and keep a (surveillance) eye out for them in their future visits.

Supermarkets worldwide are turning to video surveillance for these reasons. This often increases costs for the stores, especially if they choose to record weeks and months of video, and need to store it. Many supermarkets choose the other option – that of simply having security personnel peel their eyes and watch all the video as it is being created. Other supermarkets choose to lower the quality of video being recorded, so that storing a day’s worth of video doesn’t eat into a lot of storage space. This also ensures that video surveillance doesn’t become prohibitively expensive.

Video surveillance is often used along with other methods, such as bar codes. Any person walking out of a store with a pilfered article should expect an ominous beep at the door, which means that the system has recognized something that hasn’t been paid for, but is still on its way out. This method has been in use for decades. In coordination with video surveillance, the security officials can apprehend the miscreant before he reaches the door, or before he realizes that he’s been caught on tape.

This, in turn, is the best part of video surveillance in supermarkets. An innocent-looking video camera, strategically placed, assures that the criminal will be spotted, though the camera itself may not. However, some stores use video surveillance in a different manner. Rather than apprehend any shoplifters, they seek to prevent the whole affair. Some supermarkets fix up the cameras, and keep the screens visible where shoppers can see which part of the store is being watched, and how well. This deters any potential shoplifters, especially in respected supermarkets where a regular patron may point out the offending shoplifter.

Finally, some supermarkets put up signs saying “This area is under video surveillance”, with absolutely no clue to the now-wary shopper, as to where the camera is. With loyal staff and some pluck, this might just be the cheapest “video surveillance trick” that a supermarket can pull off.