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Connecting the Dots on Retail Theft

Media Release

02 October 2014

Connecting the Dots on Retail Theft

A crime spree has come to a swift end thanks to the use of technology and a partnership between retailers, Police and startup company Eyedentify, that is being used to help identify repeat shoplifters and prevent crime.

Recently, Waikato Police apprehended a 45 year old male for theft after information provided by retailers to Eyedentify’s online platform, was used to link the man to seven separate offences across Auckland and the Waikato.

Eyedentify CEO, Phil Thomson, said the New Zealand company is helping to tackle the $2m per day shoplifting problem that NZ retailers face.

“We have worked directly with retailers and Police to develop a cloud-based platform for retailers to report crimes that happen in their stores. This information is then shared directly to Police and real-time alerts are sent to the retailer's other stores in the area, helping to prevent further offences.”

“This arrest shows the success of using technology to work collaboratively with retailers and Police to identify repeat offenders and prevent crime,” Mr Thomson said.

The man was arrested after a retailer reported an incident via Eyedentify that involved him stealing products from a store before requesting refunds on the products from other stores in the area. After being arrested and charged with this offence, information provided by other stores to Eyedentify was able to track the man’s crime spree from West Auckland through to Huntly, Hamilton, and Cambridge, leading to further charges being laid.

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Hamilton City Prevention Manager, Inspector Marcus Lynam, said technological innovations such as the platform created by Eyedentify, are real force-multipliers for Police working to prevent crime.

"They enable us to link what could at first appear to be unrelated incidents spread over multiple Police districts, helping us to bring offenders to account."

Eyedentify has been developing its platform for the last two and a half years and is now seeing over 30% of offences being prevented in stores using the Eyedentify system. A number of New Zealand’s major retailers are using the platform to detect, deter, and deny repeat offenders, and provide this information to Police.

Thomson says a big part of the successful uptake by retailers has been removing the cumbersome processes involved in reporting crime and a shift in focus by retailers.

“Eyedentify’s streamlined process can save retail staff up to an hour per incident by removing all of the paperwork and phone calls previously required to report a theft. This has also encouraged retailers to focus on long-term crime prevention rather than one-off instances.”

This new way of reporting also appears to be saving Police officers substantial time by automatically providing Police with all the information, CCTV footage, and a witness statement. The partnership between major retailers, Police, and Eyedentify is currently operational in Auckland, Waikato, Wellington, and Christchurch.

"As part of our national Prevention First strategy, Police encourage all organisations designing ways to enhance their abilities to work together with Police to help make our communities safer and better places. And it is evident with this recent arrest that Eyedentify is certainly doing that," said Inspector Lynam.

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