By Andrew Allentuck
ACCORDING TO THE nonprofit National
Association for Shoplifting Prevention,
shrinkage in stores, from employee and shopper theft, supplier fraud and inventory miscounts, amounted to $37.1 billion in 2010.
“Celebrities shoplift, organized gangs do it and
ordinary folks do it,” says Barbara Staib, the
organization’s director of communications.
As a result of this, as well as domestic
concerns about burglary and child safety,
video surveillance systems have become common in businesses and in homes. Security
cameras not only document activity, but can
also deter or even stop crime. For a few hundred dollars, it’s possible to buy a few security
cameras and a digital video recorder able to
capture and hold many weeks of images.
Here are a few things to know when looking into setting up a security camera system:
• The exact amount of storage depends
on how many frames of motion are recorded
per second, the resolution, the capacity of
the system and the amount of commotion
that is recorded.
• Searching for an image of an incident is
as easy as calling up a day and time that is
date-stamped by the recorder or indexed by
computer software, usually part of a package,
that allows a desktop or portable computer to
log events. Some systems permit remote viewing of images that can be sent from the camera
to a smartphone anywhere in the world.
• Small systems with just a few cameras
can usually be installed by the purchaser.
Larger systems are best installed by licensed
electricians or specialists in telecommunications systems.
• Placement of cameras has to be done
with discretion. In stores, customers expect that
they may be watched, although a store manager
could face legal challenges if cameras are in
places where there is an expectation of privacy,
such as changing rooms and bathrooms. To
protect themselves from privacy
challenges, stores usually post signs
that say the premises are watched by
The Costco Connection
Costco and Costco.com carry a variety of
security cameras for home or business use.
Andrew Allentuck is a financial writer based
in Winnipeg, Manitoba. His latest book is
When Can I Retire? Planning Your Financial
Life After Work (Penguin, 2011).
BEING WATCHFUL when shopping or on
the street is also important. Costco member Louis Perry, president of Los Angeles–
based Kadima Security Services Inc., offers
1. When pulling into a parking space,
observe your surroundings. If something
doesn’t look right—for instance, if you see
that there are people parked in a van or a
car with no purpose, or if you see someone
standing outside near your parking space
with no purpose—find another space.
2. When leaving a store, beware of any
person who asks, “May I help you push
your cart?” While you open the car door, he
or she may try to distract you while an asso-
ciate criminal steals your purse.
3. Put credit cards and cash away at
the register and not in the middle of your
walk to the car.
4. Do not leave your car running while
loading your shopping into it. A criminal
could jump in your car and drive off.
5. If you make bank deposits regularly,
use different routes. Also, do not use
deposit bags while walking along the street,
which can attract the attention of a criminal.
Carrying the money in a fast-food bag
Be aware, be smart, be safe
would be a deterrent.
6. Before inserting your debit or credit
card in an ATM, inspect the ATM and make
sure a card reader hasn’t been attached to
the insert section of the machine. Information
gained from a card reader allows people to
get into your account and withdraw your
money. These criminal gadgets are inserted
inside the entry of the ATM’s card reader. If
you see anything protruding from the ATM’s
card reader, walk away and report it.
7. Be alert for movie pirates who try to
sell you movies on the street and elsewhere.
Once you get home you may find there is
nothing on the disc. More important, it is
against the law. C