Convenience Store News

JAN 2017

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74 Convenience Store News | JANUARY 2017 | WWW.CSNEWS.COM Store Ops + Labor + HR + Real Estate + Financial + Field Ops OPERATIONS integration, employees can now hit a button on the POS to alert the alarm company to look at the cameras and possibly call the police, according to Bartol. Still, c-store companies struggle to find a way to stop robberies and violence before they occur, and a big issue is many robbers wear masks to conceal their identities. "There are over 100 armed robberies in the country weekly right now and the lion's share of those are guys with masks on," explained Joseph Spiess, senior part- ner at Blue Line Technology, based in Fenton, Mo., which offers facial recognition video surveillance. PERMISSION TO ENTER At Riverview Moto Mart, owned by FKG Oil Co. based in Belleville, Ill., robberies occurred several times in a matter of months. The chain approached the store man- ager with a solution that might help, especially since many of the robberies included masked men. "We had gentlemen with masks coming in and rob- bing the store, and after several incidents the home office started looking at avenues to help the situation," said Chad Leemon, store manager at the location. "They showed me a packet of information from Blue Line Technology about its First Line surveillance prod- ucts that require facial recognition in order for cus- tomers to enter the store, and after several issues here we decided we wanted to move forward." At the entrance to the store, there is a sign telling customers they must look up at the camera to gain entry into the store — which the location activates in the evening hours from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. There is also a large LED light that changes from red to green once the facial recog- nition occurs and that is when the door unlocks. If someone tries to enter wearing a mask, they are denied entry by the camera. There is also a monitor by the POS so employees can view who is approach- ing the store, and flip PREVENTATIVE MEASURES While profit loss from internal and external shrink is top-of-mind for convenience store retailers, robbery and violence continue to be an issue, especially with the recent FBI statistics showing these incidents increasing. "We made really great strides in reducing rob- bery, but that was in the '80s, '90s and early 2000s," Erickson noted. "As we moved back toward dealers for Big Oil and franchisees for corporate companies, we started moving more into the mom-and-pop opera- tion and they don't want to spend money on technol- ogy to address many of these problems." While most operators put in cameras to deter inter- nal theft, there are other benefits of cameras in deter- ring other types of crime. For this reason, cameras should also be placed outside, covering the parking lot along with the gas pumps, she explained. And both the front and the back of the store should be monitored. "Surveillance cameras are critical, not because they will necessarily prevent a robbery — although there will be some deterrent — but it also helps in identify- ing people for arrests and convictions," said Erickson. The cameras available today are significant upgrades from what the industry used in the past, providing higher resolution and crisper images. At least 720p or HD cameras are the minimum of what most chains are using. Cameras today are also much more cost-effective to implement than in the past, according to Hedgie Bartol, retail business devel- opment manager for Axis Communications, a man- ufacturer of security and surveillance cameras. "In the old days, news stories would ask if people could identify someone based on a surveillance image and you couldn't even tell it was a human being. Now, you can get actionable images," Bartol said. "There are even intel- ligent devices so I could have a camera in the carport of my home and put a rule that between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. if there is motion detect- ed, a white light will go on and announce people are trespassing, and then send me six to eight images." This could apply in a c-store, too, for activity at the back door, cooler, the pump and more during off-hours, he noted. Also, for employee protection, many compa- nies use a panic button. But with point-of-sale (POS)

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