When I was down at the corner store earlier this evening, there were some kids milling around by the magazine rack. They were in high spirits because they had just come from a basketball game, I gathered. They were noisy but not threatening. Then the owner came over and went into a tantrum, yelling that kids were not allowed and that he desired their urgent departure, or words to that effect. I don’t think it’s legal to ban kids from your store, actually, even if you’re afraid of shoplifting. While I was paying for my milk, I suggested to the owner that he put in a hidden camera.
He already has a security camera in the corner of the ceiling, like all of these stores, but it doesn’t do much good. First of all, the sightlines from there are terrible. You can tell from the monitor, which is on display behind the cash register, that the camera picks up little more than your head and shoulders unless you’re standing right by the counter. The farther back you go in the store, the less the camera sees what anyone is doing. I could go back there and stuff a quart of milk down each leg of my pants without fear of being recorded on video.
The bigger problem is that this camera is a bulky piece of equipment that everyone can see. It’s just too visible to prevent any petty thievery. Of course there’s a sign that says shoplifters will be prosecuted, but in order to ward off the criminal element, you actually have to catch someone. That’s how word gets around the neighborhood that your store is not a good place to steal from.
Now if you had a hidden camera and you installed the monitor under the counter where only you could see it, that would keep potential thieves on their toes. You could install the camera on a low shelf and get good angles, plus you could move it to a different spot every week. Just catch one or two shoplifters in the act, and whether or not you choose to prosecute, your store becomes a much less attractive target.