As a shopper, am I legally entitled to demand access to surveillance footage in a store? And as the store owner can anybody request to see my store’s surveillance video without a search warranty?
Well, as time goes by, more and more people realize the importance of CCTV systems, both at home and in business places. Unlike the past when the owners only installed them for security purposes, today the gadgets have proven more useful than that. Also, there has been extensive advancement in technology, leading to not only high numbers of Wire-free wireless security cameras that can mount anywhere. But also wide use of smart system intelligence like facial recognition, human detection, and people counting algorithm.
In this post, we’re going to look at the essence of CCTV in a retail store. However, I have divided the post into two sections, whereby we’ll look at the value of the technology to store owner/ management and the customer
Benefits of Video surveillance in a store to the Owner/ Management
If you’re reading this article as a retail store owner, there so many things you enjoy if you have a good security camera system for business. The nine important ones include and also how do security cameras work in stores.
- Reduce Retail theft: According to the shoplifting stat here in the United States, up to $20 billion worth of profits are lost to shoplifters per year. However, those with active security camera systems in their premises are affected less as many shoplifters steal with opportunity. Thus, will be afraid to commit the offense if there are high chances of getting caught.
2. Ensure public safety: Just the way home security camera system works for the family, having surveillance cameras at a retail store can help heighten the safety of your clients and their properties. The best part is that CCTV for businesses even has more advanced analytics functions, such as IVS abandoned object detection and IPS loitering detection. Hence, enabling you to handle suspicious individuals or items before anything evil happens.
3. Improve workers’ spirit: said simply, a customer is more likely to visit again if the premise is safe, so is the employee. If the workers continue losing their valuables under strange circumstances, it could affect their inner self. Hence, corrupting their performance, or else they look for a vacancy elsewhere.
4. Improve store operations: With an intelligent security camera system inside the store, you can track the times that are the busiest and those that are slow. So, you’ll know when to have more employees to improve the customer experience.
5. Manage the store remotely: If you have internet in your store, it’s very easy to remotely view security cameras when away. That way, you can know which employees slack off or help themselves with the stock when there’s no authority around.
6. Improve employee productivity: When the input is inefficient, the output will be off the margin as well. But if the place has surveillance cameras all around the premise, you can easily identify and then correct the employees who are underperforming or using inefficient store practices. Also, the cameras can be a great motivator for those individuals who only work harder under supervision.
7. Speed up investigation and convictions: This works best when you have a security camera system with DVR or NVR so that it can record all time, for long, and in rich clarity. Thus, ensuring you have evidence enough to prosecute in the event of a break-in, shoplifting, or vandalism
8. Track the available Inventory: With cameras along the store’s products shelves and stockroom, you can control the inventory more efficiently. You can easily track what’s available and the ones emptying up so that you can ensure there’s continuous flow all the time.
Last but not least, having a reliable CCTV system can help you cut off some bills in the long run. For instance, a PTZ security camera can cover a wide area of a compound through the panning and tilting feature. So, you can reduce the number of security officers or the in-store assistants.
Key Features any Retail Store Surveillance Camera System Should Have
In general, different surveillance cameras have different features and capabilities. Not all of them will give you the kind of comfort we’ve just mentioned above.
For instance, many of the battery powered security camera systems that I’ve come across record by events, plus transmit wirelessly. As such, it’s not something reliable when we talk about large malls or if you need evidence of everything that has happened throughout the day.
Another thing, 1080p HD isn’t a resolution you expect to capture license plates of cars at a distance. So, it’s not something I would recommend in parking lots or the entrance and exit points.
Anyways, the six key things the surveillance cameras of your store should have include:
- High-resolution recording: If possible, you can have a 4k security camera system for monitoring outdoors and parking. Not just that they record in rich clarity but they can also read license plates much better. Indoors a 3MP or 2K camera is pretty enough.
- Continuous (24/7) video recording: Security camera systems that record by events (sound/ motion-activated) have high chances of missing many critical incidents. But with a system that can record 24/7, you can have footage of before, during, and after the incident.
- Night vision: Your store must have good night vision security cameras if the continuous video functionality is to work. Infrared night vision is a little more convenient as it has a longer detection range, but colored recording can also come in handy in identifying faces or car shades. So, systems like Reolink and Lorex that might have both could be a great choice.
- High storage capacity: A CCTV system with NVR or DVR is more reliable in cases where you need continuous recording. Of course, there are few battery-operated security cameras with memory card that support continuous recording, but many have a maximum capacity of 256GB. Meanwhile, a DVR or NVR can support a 2 – 24 terabyte hard drive. So, you can have evidence of a month or so.
- Remote access: this allows you to remotely view real-time video feeds on your store from anywhere, anytime. It’s a great feature to have as many staff misconduct and mischiefs happen when authorities are off-site.
- Scalability: If you have a small store, chances are that you might want to expand your business at some point. So, you should consider expandable surveillance equipment as well, preferably with 16 channels or even higher so that you’ll just be adding cameras.
Other than the six, some advanced algorithms can come in handy for in-store monitoring needs. Some examples include abandoned object detection, people counting, line crossing detection, and facial recognition for staff zones.
Benefits of the Video Surveillance in a Store to the Buyers
A store with a functional surveillance system is not just essential to the owner and employees, but to the customers too. Some of the advantages you can enjoy as a buyer include:
- Provide peace of mind when shopping
- Track your missing items, e.g. luggage or kid
- Provide Proof of unethical Treatment by the staff
- Fasten Investigation and court settlement
In the last one on the investigation, CCTV footage can provide strong evidence of how an incident happened. Hence, speeding up the investigation and conviction process. If the video surveillance persuades the jury that the cause is the store’s negligence, deception, or participation, you could even get compensation. A good example is the Tamika Ortiz v. Giant Food Store lawsuit that concluded that the supermarket was 60% liable. Thus, leading to a $39,000 compensation.
So, I’m I Legally Entitled to Demand Access to a Store’s Surveillance Footage
Truthfully, surveillance footage is a great tool for a trial. It provides factual evidence, which will be easy to understand to the jury, easily admissible, and also difficult to attack with credibility concerns, as with witnesses.
As the customer, however, you don’t have the legal right to demand access to surveillance footage of a retail store. According to Stephen P. Norman, Civil Rights attorney, private entities are not subject to the freedom of information act that governs the public property. So, you have to file the claim for the incident first and engage in discovery to obtain the video. It’s only during discovery the defendant is obligated to present a copy of the surveillance video to the plaintiff’s side.
It’s safe to say video surveillance is very important in a retail store. As the management, you can make the best of your business by curbing incidents like shoplifting, increasing employee productivity, and improving the customer shopping experience.
On the other hand, as a customer you can shop in your favorite store with confidence if the security is uptight. In the event of an incident, you can also ask the store in good faith to provide you with the surveillance video. If they don’t approve your kind request, you can report the respective crime to the police so that they can get the video for you.
And if you believe you were wronged civilly, then filing a lawsuit can get you a subpoena that should give you access to the video.