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We were losing £26,000 to shoplifters each year. Now we have a secret weapon to stop thieves


Vince and Fiona Malone - We installed AI in our shop to help with crime

Vince (L) and Fiona (R) have transformed their shop with AI (Picture: Vince and Fiona Malone)

Ping!

Another video popped up on our phones.

Our hearts sank, and we thought ‘not again’ – while simultaneously feeling grateful to have the video at all.

It was 8:00pm on 24 September 2023. We were at home in Tenby, West Wales, and we were looking at the third video that day of the same two men shoplifting alcohol from our convenience shop.

It was a video we had thanks to AI. But technology never used to be at the forefront of our business.

We took over Tenby Post Office in 2015, and quickly added a convenience shop. In 2020, we moved to a new location up the road, and purpose-built a joint convenience shop and post office.

We now employ 14 people and we sell food, alcohol, stationery, magazines, cards and lots of local produce, like traditional Welsh cakes.

It’s incredibly hard work, but it’s very rewarding, too. Customers send us gifts and letters of thanks – one 85-year-old customer wrote thanking us for delivering her paper every week.

And we’ll think, ‘That’s why we do it’.

Fiona (L) and Vince (R) say the subsequent loss of money was a real kick in the teeth (Picture: Vince and Fiona Malone)

But, as things started getting back to ‘normal’ after Covid, we started to notice things missing from the shelves.

We’d do a stock check, go through our CCTV, identify certain patterns – and it shocked us to see the granular detail of what was being stolen. Alcohol was a major item, and pet food was another.

We realised we were losing around £26,000 per year to shoplifting – and we were horrified.

We felt angry, because we provide a service to the community and these shoplifting individuals were letting us down.

Plus, although we are a successful business, we’re not making millions. We’re paying our mortgage and surviving, and this crime – and subsequent loss of money – was a real kick in the teeth. It actively impacted our quality of life and the things we were able to do with our children.

At the same time, though, we felt compassion for some of the people stealing from us – those fuelled by drugs or alcohol, for example. While they’re impacting our lives, you’ve got to look at their lives and realise there’s a reason for what they’re doing.

We moved our spirits and expensive bottles of wine behind the counter (Picture: Vince and Fiona Malone)

You can feel angry at someone and sorry for them at the same time.

But we knew we had to do something.

There were certain steps we could take. We’ll never have anyone lone working, for one thing, as this can leave a team member in an unfair vulnerable position, so there are always at least two people on a shift.

Plus, the people stealing alcohol were often alcohol-fuelled. These thefts were easier to identify, …read more

Source:: Metro

      

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