The Daily Telegraph

Sainsbury’s hi-tech CCTV spy software cuts shopliftin­g by half

- By James Cook

ARTIFICIAL intelligen­ce technology developed by a British start-up has been used by Sainsbury’s to halve the number of thefts in its stores.

London-based Thirdeye has developed software that can run on a store’s existing CCTV system in order to scan aisles for any signs of theft.

It works by analysing CCTV footage to detect customers who handle an unusually high number of items in supermarke­t aisles that typically experience the highest amount of theft.

The Grocer reported the technology was being trialled in 20 Sainsbury’s branches, leading to a 50pc drop in the theft of spirits. The software detected 5,591 thefts in six months.

Thirdeye declined to comment, but according to its website, the company’s technology is able to analyse footage to detect whether thieves place items in their pocket or under their coat. If a theft is detected, then the software sends a short video clip to store security guards who can intercept the suspect before they leave the store.

It is also able to detect checkout theft, where a customer deliberate­ly fails to scan an item at a self-checkout.

The start-up is now working on a social distancing detector which will help supermarke­ts to analyse whether shoppers are standing too close to each other following the coronaviru­s pandemic.

The use of AI technology to lower the amount of theft from supermarke­ts has risen in recent years, although it has also proven controvers­ial. “At Sainsbury’s we pride ourselves on making sure that our colleagues and guards are equipped with the latest innovation­s to help them reduce shrink [loss of stock] and work in a safer environmen­t,” Mike Beach, Sainsbury’s senior prevention manager, told The Grocer.

“The Thirdeye team understand­s that and have worked with us in a collaborat­ive partnershi­p to reduce theft from our spirits aisle by 30 basis points.”

Walmart, the American supermarke­t chain, confirmed last year that it uses AI theft detection in more than 1,000 of its stores. The software, named “Missed Scan Detection by Walmart,” is based on technology developed by Irish business Everseen.

Amazon, meanwhile, is working on technology to allow shoppers to leave stores without the need to use a checkout. The system – called Just walk out – is intended to emulate the experience of using Amazon Go stores in the US.

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