Source: ThirdEye

In a trial from September to March the technology prevented up to 50% of thefts in the aisles it was installed

Sainsbury’s is trialling an AI-enabled ‘concealment detector’ in several stores, which spots if a customer has pocketed an item and instantly sends a short video of the act to security staff.

The technology uses machine learning to recognise and record suspicious behaviour based on CCTV feeds from specific aisles.

Sainsbury’s has been working with London startup ThirdEye since last year, trialling the first version of the tech in 20 stores from September to March. The launch product detected when a customer handled an unusually high number of products in the supermarket’s highest shrinkage aisles.

By the end of the trial, the technology had prevented up to 50% of thefts in the aisles it was installed, ThirdEye said, deterring 5,591 theft attempts.

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“At Sainsbury’s we pride ourselves on making sure that our colleagues and guards are equipped with the latest innovations to help them reduce shrink and work in a safer environment,” said Sainsbury’s senior prevention manager Mike Beach. “The ThirdEye team understands that and have worked with us in a collaborative partnership to reduce theft from our spirits aisle by 30 basis points.”

The approach was also applied to several self-service checkouts and detected an average one theft attempt per checkout every hour.

“We are excited about the future of their technology both for this use-case and their wider vision to transform the way we leverage our in-store cameras,” Beach added.

The latest iteration of the technology allows it to detect when an item has been placed in a pocket or under a coat. When a concealment is detected, security staff are alerted via an app, and shown a four-second video of the theft, with the culprit squared in a red box.

The startup claims it to be the “first commercially available concealment detector in the world”.

“The grocery sector has low margins and is extremely competitive, so any way they can reduce their operating costs without compromising on service is a win for consumers and their long-term competitiveness,” ThirdEye CEO Raz Ghafoor told The Grocer.

“Technology like ThirdEye’s theft prevention software is one of the best ways they can achieve this and with theft rising due to higher unemployment, it becomes even more urgent to invest now.”

It is understood another major supermarket is also about to trial the detector in stores.