Banks have become more and more secure, so bank robberies pay off less and less. Criminals have their eyes on retail. Oftentimes, they wait for employees before a store opens or after it closes and force them to hand over all cash. Alternatively, criminals break in at night. What retailers can do to provide more security for their employees and customers is showcased every year at the EuroCIS trade show.
On the night of April 14, 2012, unknown perpetrators broke into a supermarket in Mettingen near Osnabrück, Germany.
According to police, the incident happened “between 8 p.m. and 7 a.m.” The criminals stole about 400 boxes of cigarettes and a three-figure amount in cash. The safe that was in the office could not be opened. An alarm system could have possibly stopped them in their tracks, while video equipment could have delivered valuable pictures.
EuroCIS highlighted new cameras
Several manufacturers introduced new cameras at the EuroCIS trade show. Network cameras more and more push analog models aside. Still, experts assume that they will coexist for some time to come. In a network, cameras can be controlled and at the same time energized which makes wiring easier. Via the network, they can also be cost-effectively controlled from afar via the Internet and intelligent software can point out irregularities to the security surveillance staff.
Cameras are differentiated based on their site of operation: outdoors, indoors or inside and outside. Lighting conditions play an important role in this. For night surveillance, you need high light sensitivity whereas with backlighting by the sun, the camera aperture has to reduce the light quantity on the image sensor. In addition, an outdoor camera needs a housing that protects against the elements and vandalism. Many cameras sound the alarm if somebody willfully masks the “view” with a cloth or spray paint.
Cameras can be fixedly aligned with fixed or variable focal length. PTZ cameras on the other hand are flexible. This English acronym stands for Pan-Tilt-Zoom. With their zoom, they can be used for monitoring a parking lot or a large area in the store all the way to providing detailed pictures. Manufacturers promise retailers that HD makes sharper images and more detail possible. People are not always meant to see in which direction the camera is currently “looking”. In this case, “dome” cameras are ideal. They are located in a dome housing, therefore are quite inconspicuous and can be tilted in the dome without detection and are well protected against vandalism.
Blurring might occur with extreme telephotos, for instance through wind or vibration. Electronic image stabilization helps with this. There are also cameras available where you can cover up parts of the picture to protect the privacy of the observed persons. This even works, if the camera is being panned or zoomed. This technology can also reduce false alarms, triggered by moving branches for instance. However, as great as cameras are, it all depends on what you do with them. A well-trained staff is key.
Interview with Stephan Seifert, Managing Director Sales and Service for Gunnebo Germany
Safes, security doors and money counting machines – a great deal in the area of security comes from the banking sector. This is also the case for the Swedish manufacturer Gunnebo. Stephan Seifert started out in its German subsidiary in 2002 in Sales for banks and savings institutions. In 2009, he assumed leadership and since the beginning of 2012 is Managing Director of Sales and Service for banks and retail markets. He believes that the retail market, banks and carriers will work more closely together in handling cash. He says professional cash management also pays off for smaller retailers.
How does theft in retail develop in Germany and Europe?
The public authorities have not published the final statistics for 2011 yet. However, preliminary numbers from several German states indicate a significant increase in parts. The small business magazine ”Berlin Maximal“ reports an increase in break-ins by almost a quarter in private houses and office buildings in 2011. The police also point out the risks for retailers in their prevention offices. The public officials’ experiences show that repeatedly, single perpetrators and burglary gangs operating on a national level target stores. That is why retailers have to continuously deal with the topics of burglary and adequate protection against it.
Are supermarkets and stores too easy to break in? Are retailers not doing enough in terms of building security?
When it comes to the subject of security, oftentimes shoplifting and inventory differences are at the center of attention. A lot is done in these areas. Yet we also notice in conversations with customers and the people in charge that burglary protection is once again slowly gaining more importance. This is especially true since companies have to realign their cash logistics. Due to the gradual withdrawal of the German Federal Reserve (“Bundesbank”) from cash handling, retailers are looking for different and efficient solutions for cash management. New processes in cash supply management provide a solution via cash recycling and deposit systems in the back office where the money is safely stored until it is picked up. Good burglary protection and secure access systems are the necessary basis for such solutions. That is why companies invest in safety systems where necessary.
Large chain stores bring the bank in-house. When does investing in cash machines pay off and how do these machines work?
Due to new, intelligent deposit systems as well as cash machines, operations that are more efficient are possible in the cash area. With the “SafeCash Retail Deposit smart“ cash handling solution for example, retailers can optimize handling of banknotes. At closing time, the cashier deposits the bills from the cash drawer into the system. The banknotes are automatically being counted and checked for authenticity. Elaborately balancing the cash register involving manual counting and requiring dual control is no longer necessary. The bills are directly stored in the system in a burglarproof safe until they are picked up. The solution can be connected to a banking network via interfaces and ensures an immediate availability of paid in funds on the business account. Secure logistics providers handle the money pick-up and account reconciliation in collaboration with the commercial bank.
Interview with Ralph Siegfried, Consultant Business Development Retail, Axis Communications Germany
Video surveillance is part of the standard when it comes to prevention of theft and burglaries. Yet there is a lot happening right now in this area. Cameras are becoming more capable and can do more than just monitor things as Ralph Siegfried from Axis Communications points out in our interview. Intelligent cameras can assist in predicting waiting times at the checkout or in analyzing buying behavior of customers. In doing so, says Siegfried, video at this point also benefits retailers who thus far believed cameras just for the purpose of security to be too expensive.
You consider yourself the global market leader in the area of network video solutions. How is this market developing?
From our point of view, the global markets and those in Europe and in Germany are developing in a parallel and very dynamic way. You can see differences in the decision criteria. In the U.S. and Asia for instance, security is still the primary focus, whereas in Europe retailers more often emphasize the importance of video to also be applicable in the areas of sales and marketing or to optimize processes true to the saying: ”A video shows everything – why then should you ’only’ use it for security.“
It is true, Axis is the global market leader in network video. It is also our goal to become No. 1 in the overall video marketplace by 2013 – also for analog and network video. That is why we disproportionately invest in our development and additional resources.
You want to promote the switch from analog to digital video surveillance. Is digital worth the trouble for every retailer?
The switch from analog to digital is already in full swing. Most larger retailers already rely on network cameras in their new stores or renovated buildings and the speed is steadily increasing. In current stores, network cameras to utilize the advantages of high-resolution pictures and videos in critical areas, also supplement existing analog set-ups. Integration in this case takes place via a wide range of available encoders from our facility.