An Australian supermarket giant will arm workers with new devices to combat the increasing number of threats against staff and a shoplifting scourge that costs the industry $9 billion annually.
Coles will roll out body-worn cameras across 30 high-risk stores in South Australia, Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia.
You may have already noticed them, with security guards and retail staff having trialled the wearable recorders over the last few months.
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Coles transformation general manager Sophie Wong said the company was adapting to an increase in retail crime, as well as growing physical and verbal abuse targeted at staff amid increasing cost-of-living pressures.
The cameras will be fitted to workers and beam vision back live to management.
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“(It enables) us to understand in real time what is happening to our team members and the community as well,” Wong said.
Coles’ total stock loss last financial year was up 20 per cent on the previous 12 months, the supermarket recently announced, alongside its revelations of a net profit of $1.1 billion.
More broadly, retail experts say theft costs Australian businesses about $9 billion every year.
Coles will roll out body-worn camera at 30 of its stores across Australia. Credit: 7NEWSThe cameras will be fitted to workers and beam vision back live to management. Credit: 7NEWS
Wong said the cameras comply with Australian privacy laws and regulations and that Coles would not hold on to the vision “for any longer than a few weeks”.
Body-worn cameras, which have also been trialled by other supermarket chains including Woolworths, are just one element of the fight against crime, with Coles also investing in duress watches.
Wong said the devices can alert police directly about a dangerous situation and had been activated several times during a recent trial.
“I think the broader benefit of having the watch or the body-worn camera is more for the team member to know they have devices at their disposal if they need it,” she said.
An image from the Coles body-worn camera trial. Credit: 7NEWS
The measures were explained as South Australian authorities revealed organised rackets had been stealing thousands of dollars worth of supermarket goods before driving them across state borders and selling them off.
Baby formula, high-end cuts of meat and beauty products were at the top of the grocery list for crooks because of their value on the black market.
“The technology is incredibly useful. What we’ve seen … is that people police have not been able to identify (are put) onto the Crime Stoppers website, and we have very good outcomes in terms of now identifying those people and holding them to account for their crimes,” SA Police Assistant Commissioner Scott Duval said.
“Here we are talking organised retail crime, so this is the serious end of town in terms of shop theft.”
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