ABCO SET TO TEST CCTV AS SHOPLIFTING STOPPER

PHOENIX -- Abco Foods here is installing closed-circuit television cameras this summer to defend against shoplifters growing more skilled at evading security systems."We're looking to go chainwide with these camera systems," said Denise Brownell, vice president of loss prevention. Abco will initially pilot-test the cameras in two stores before launching a complete rollout.The retailer currently uses

PHOENIX -- Abco Foods here is installing closed-circuit television cameras this summer to defend against shoplifters growing more skilled at evading security systems.

"We're looking to go chainwide with these camera systems," said Denise Brownell, vice president of loss prevention. Abco will initially pilot-test the cameras in two stores before launching a complete rollout.

The retailer currently uses video cameras in only some of its 71 stores, and is now upgrading to a more comprehensive system. "This is going to be something that runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week and keeps a 31-day [video] library," she added.

Multiple cameras will be installed in each store and managers will be able to simultaneously monitor all cameras, Brownell said.

The pilot stores were chosen "in areas where we traditionally have had problems," she said, adding that Abco also intends to significantly reduce internal theft with the increased presence of cameras.

"We're going to start with the pilot stores and learn from our mistakes," Brownell added. "We have 71 stores, so it's a big investment and commitment on everyone's part and we really want to do it right."

Before rolling out the system chainwide, Abco will evaluate each location to determine the number of cameras each store requires. "Our square footage greatly differs from store to store," Brownell said.

Abco is also expanding use of electronic article surveillance tags and is intrigued by the concept of source-tagging, which calls for EAS security devices to be embedded in the product or product packaging at the point of manufacture.

EAS systems are currently installed

at 31 of its stores and two more will be added. Abco is finding, however, that EAS systems' effectiveness has diminished somewhat as other retailers in the market have adopted the technology.

Brownell said Abco was among the first in the state to install EAS. "Being the pioneers, [shoplifters] stayed away from us and went to the other chains," she said.

"People are learning ways to bypass the system. They're learning what the labels look like. They just take the merchandise out of the package and dump the package."

Abco believes that manufacturer source-tagging of merchandise would be a key way to increase the effectiveness of EAS. "We're hoping for source-tagging; that would be wonderful for all of us."