It used to be that after a robbery, the police would review a surveillance tape for clues into who broke in, at what time and what the bad guys looked like. Since the thieves would be long gone by the time the tape was reviewed, there would often be little the authorities could do about it.
But thanks to 21st-Century technology, the crooks are being watched in real time and, as a result, getting caught a lot more often.
In this Q&A, Dennis Thomas, regional loss prevention manager and certified field trainer at Zale, explains how the retailer's IT operation is playing an increasingly important role in the physical security effort.
How has the art of loss prevention changed in the last decade, in terms of how IT and cyberspace comes into play?
In the last 10 years the corporation has really come around to the understanding that criminals have embraced technology and that the only way to defeat them is by staying one step ahead from a technological aspect.
Give some examples of how the bad guys are using technology against companies like yours.
They use technology and the Internet to conduct counter-surveillance on the police departments, they're using Google Earth and they're using GPS technology to get from one place to the next. They'll enter a retail corporation's Web page and use the store locator section to get the various addresses, which they plug into their GPS systems and it allows them to go from location to location to location.
Your organization seems to be fighting back in more of a real-time fashion, as opposed to surveillance camera recordings where you would see the burglary take place long after the fact.
Keep in mind, in the old days a crime could occur in a store with the employees there and they wouldn't always notice what was happening. With remote technology our trained operators at the command center can observe a theft in progress and notify the police in real time with important time-sensitive details like description, method of operation and where the merchandise is on the person. The police in turn are a lot more successful in making an arrest than they were five years ago. The real benefit is the increase in time notification. Let's say the operator doesn't immediately see the theft as it's happening. They can still e-mail camera images to the police, which is still faster than trying to pull video off an old VCR tape.