Retail chains like TJX, the parent company of TJ Maxx and Marshalls, are equipping some store employees with body cameras to deter shoplifting and improve safety. This is part of a growing trend in the retail industry, as stores respond to an increase in organized retail theft and violence against workers. However, some criminologists and worker advocates argue that body cameras are unlikely to be an effective deterrent and that retailers should focus on improving training, staffing, and other safety measures instead. There are also concerns that the body camera footage could be misused, such as to monitor and discourage union organizing. Overall, the implementation of body cameras in retail is a complex issue with pros and cons that retailers will need to carefully consider.

Summarized by Kagi Universal Summarizer

  • 🇰 🔵 🇱 🇦 🇳 🇦 🇰 ℹ️@yiffit.net
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    1 month ago

    100% it’s really for anti-union bullshit because who the fuck is stealing in full view of an employee where the employees having body cams would make a lick of difference?

    Or is it meant to deter the employees from stealing? 🤔

    • snooggums@midwest.social
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      1 month ago

      Most likely it is there to blame the employee for not being busy enough or not doing everything perfectly with a customer.

      • MalachaiConstant@lemmy.world
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        1 month ago

        In other words, they have a systemic issue is where the threat of prosecution isn’t enough to deter employees from supplementing income with theft.

        I wonder what kind of conditions led to that.

  • Flying Squid@lemmy.world
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    1 month ago

    You could spend a lot of money on body cameras, or you could reduce your prices to being affordable again. I’d say either one has a decent chance of dissuading shoplifters.

    But I suppose you can only write off the former.

    • disguy_ovahea@lemmy.world
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      1 month ago

      It’s probably more due to the lack of staff than price of goods, something else they could’ve addressed with that camera money.

    • FuglyDuck@lemmy.world
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      1 month ago

      honestly, body cameras are more about liability after the fact. There’s really only two reasons to strap a camera on somebody- liability defense (cops, armed security guards, etc,) and being able to monitor what the fuck they’re doing. both are important when the individuals in question are armed. Not so much when the expected response is constructive cowardice.

      There’s absolutely no way a body camera would act as a deterrent when traditional and AI-enhanced security cameras that they’re absolutely already using won’t. Also, I’m not entirely sure I believe that there’s massive waves of organized shoplifters.

      There is- as noted in the article- a massive wave of unionization, though. and that would probably hurt their profits far more than any wave of shoplifting ever will.

    • brown567@sh.itjust.works
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      1 month ago

      I’m pretty sure you can write off shoplifted items as lost assets, so maybe just let them get shoplifted?

    • shalafi@lemmy.world
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      1 month ago

      reduce your prices to being affordable again

      Uh, they don’t get much cheaper in the new clothing market. If you want even cheaper than the cheapest, learn to thrift and repair.

    • TAG@lemmy.world
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      1 month ago

      I am pretty certain Marshalls (a TJX store) has kept prices fairly flat (if not dropping them slightly). I am used to paying about $30 for pants (across many discount retailers), but the last couple of pairs I bought there were around $20.

  • The Picard Maneuver@lemmy.world
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    1 month ago

    I’d hate that as an employee. Imagine knowing that every time you talk to a coworker, it’s recorded. Every time you sit for a few minutes to reset, it’s recorded. Every time you check your phone, it’s on camera.

        • FuglyDuck@lemmy.world
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          1 month ago

          Seriously.

          Like if you think mass-shoplifting hurts them- that shit’s already baked into the price of goods being sold before it ever happened.

          Unionizing will hurt their profits far, far more than shoplifters ever will.

          • brbposting@sh.itjust.works
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            1 month ago

            (Fuck poverty and those who promote and embrace it)


            shoplifting [is] already baked into the price of goods being sold

            Tomorrow’s recipe adjusted based on yesterday’s shrink? 👨‍🍳

            Question assumes a greedy entity will refuse to allow reduction of its profit margin.

            • FuglyDuck@lemmy.world
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              1 month ago

              Tomorrow’s recipe adjusted based on yesterday’s shrink? 👨‍🍳

              Nope. They have fancy overpriced mathnerds (“actuaries”) that build models to predict future shrinkage and price that into today’s prices.

              The shrinkage is paid for before it ever goes out the door. Probably, before it ever came in the door in the first place.

              These mathnerds that work for these corporations are some of the best in the business of risk modeling. Second only to insurance companies.

              • brbposting@sh.itjust.works
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                1 month ago

                Them actuaries 🤓

                Just called all my friends and we decided to start a TJX shoplifter training school franchise. If we’re successful this year, do we stand a chance at adding a penny to prices next year?

              • brbposting@sh.itjust.works
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                1 month ago

                already baked into the price of goods

                I’m probably substituting the specific example here, but once somebody grabbed a huge stack of napkins they weren’t even going to be able to eventually use. When confronted about waste, they replied:

                They’re already made!

                It’s wild I can still remember this anecdote. I mean, after 20 years?! You can imagine how much it bothered me. No, not a few napkins. The logic, or lack thereof.

                (It’s self evident the napkins were previously manufactured - they currently exist in front of our eyes!)

                Taking one extra napkin means napkins will be re-ordered one napkin sooner. Much easier to defend: “sorry, it’s just one napkin.“

                We need to unionize so bad, yes, but the particular argument being made re: shrink struck me as totally illogical. Surprising because it sounds like you really know your stuff! So maybe I’m missing something. Thanks for diving into the smallest thing with me here.

                • FuglyDuck@lemmy.world
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                  1 month ago

                  I’ve worked in contract security for too long.

                  Not with retailers. We charge too much for them, and they really wouldn’t like my recommendations.

                  And take it from a manager- Unions are vital. Corporations would ratfuck their own mother if it would increase their profits by a buck.

                  But their attitude is a bit more like “shrinkage is unavoidable.” So they plan to mitigate its effects before it ever happens. Unfortunately the easiest and most cost effective way to do it is to bake it in and pass that cost onto customers.

    • Pandemanium@lemm.ee
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      1 month ago

      Most retail stores and restaurants already have cameras everywhere. I had a boss who would sit at home watching the feed and then call the store to yell at us when he thought we were burning sandwiches.

  • Drusas@kbin.run
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    This is part of a growing trend in the retail industry, as stores respond to an increase in organized retail theft(1) and violence against workers(2)."

    The first has been proven to be a lie. The second is true, especially since the pandemic began.

    It’s a sad state of affairs when retail workers need to wear cameras to protect themselves, but that is the only value. Not an alleged increase in organized theft. That is just the line being brought out by big companies like Target to excuse bad behavior on their part.

  • Raiderkev@lemmy.world
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    1 month ago

    No way in hell am I wearing a damn camera and volunteering to have my employer have a live video feed of everything I do at work while making next to nothing in wages. Hey, it’s performance review time, sorry, we can’t give you a raise because you have been chatting with your friends too much while on the clock. 1984 shit. Fuck that.

    • Luccus@feddit.de
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      1 month ago

      Hello, I’m your boss. Saw you on your phone during your break in the video feed.

      You’ve been asking for a raise for years. Unfortunately, you’re a really good performer, always on time, good worker, and I’ve never heard anything negative that I could base my decision to deny your raise on. So I watched the video feed to find the most minuscule thing that I can pinpoint as a “problem”. I was about to tell you that drinking water on the job significantly decreases your performance, but that post you made on your break is now going to be my reason. Screw you. I love money!

      Sincerely, your favorite boss

      • afraid_of_zombies@lemmy.world
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        1 month ago

        Hey boss,

        Not sure what got into you. Given that we have literally hung out after work playing tabletop games and getting wasted, and I was planning to go to your wedding in September. Thought we were buds.

        Anyway guy down the street offered me more money. So going to be working there now. Best of luck without the millions of dollars I made you last year and finding someone with my skillset.

    • the_crotch@sh.itjust.works
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      1 month ago

      Your employer already has a live video feed of everything you do. That’s what those black domes all over the ceiling are.

    • jonne@infosec.pub
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      1 month ago

      Yeah, I feel like this is more about keeping tabs on the employees instead.

        • jonne@infosec.pub
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          1 month ago

          You just have AI transcribe everything that’s said, and you just have some software highlight anything that includes keywords associated with unions, and send a report to HR periodically.

    • disguy_ovahea@lemmy.world
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      1 month ago

      They legally can’t require you to do that. They can only require it to be on your person, as part of uniform, prior to clocking in. Operating the camera is considered a compensated task.

      • Fish [Indiana]@midwest.social
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        1 month ago

        Yet some supervisor or manager will argue that you “have to turn it before you clock in to make sure that it records everything.” Wage theft is nothing new.

        • disguy_ovahea@lemmy.world
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          They can say that. I’m just saying the employees will win a class action suit if they do.

          If they want to protect the company against time theft, they can install a camera near the time clock.

          • lud@lemm.ee
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            1 month ago

            That camera wouldn’t help because wage theft isn’t a crime that employees can do. By definition only an employer can commit wage theft because wage theft is stealing from employees.

            Using the time clock incorrectly isn’t wage theft.
            Not paying holiday pay or paying below minimum wage is wage theft.

            • disguy_ovahea@lemmy.world
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              1 month ago

              You’re right. It’s time theft. I repeated what was written above without thinking. Thank you for the correction. I’ll edit for clarity.

  • SleepyBear@lemmy.world
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    1 month ago

    I have this great idea to stop an increase in organized retail theft and violence against workers. STOP PRICE GOUGING GROCERIES AND PEOPLE WILL STOP STEALING THEM!

  • AngusTheNerd@feddit.uk
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    1 month ago

    We had these where I worked, what a lot of people miss is these don’t actually record until the person wearing it presses a button, it doesn’t have the battery life to record, encode, then broadcast video for 8+ hours. No doubt when that becomes feasible they’ll give it a go though.

    In the UK we have to announce to everyone it’s recording. The gangs and thieves know this and don’t care. They were happy to attack and rob us when we already had store wide CCTV.

    The only deterrent that worked was a security guard we had for a short while, but the company withdrew them because we weren’t losing over 5% of our daily take to theft, ignoring that we got the guard because two people had been sent to hospital after being attacked by a gang of youths.

    • Buddahriffic@lemmy.world
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      1 month ago

      Businesses shouldn’t be run by people who never have to even step foot on the premises. The people making the decisions (and proceeds!) should be the ones that actually have to live with those decisions and implement them.

  • nondescripthandle@lemmy.dbzer0.com
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    1 month ago

    I hope eventually theres a document of like flagged words and phrases like that one online document of words and phrases that’ll get you on a watch list from that.was going around very online circles a long time back. That way as a shopper I can say things or hold up pictures to the camera to create lots of false flags making their little AI throw the results to someone they gotta pay to review it.

    • Buddahriffic@lemmy.world
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      1 month ago

      Talk about meetings to get the union started and how it looks like we’ve already got enough committed votes in favour to get it going without worrying about what kind of propaganda they’ll try to throw at the staff once they realize it’s happening and that the other stores also seem to be on track and if they get the timing right, they won’t be able to just shut that many down to quell it. Then think aloud about how we shouldn’t be talking about this there because who knows what those fucking cameras are picking up and sending back to corporate.

      • nondescripthandle@lemmy.dbzer0.com
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        Great point, I can’t believe I didn’t think of that. Gonna throw a BS name on the end of the union talk to to make them spend time trying to find someone who doesn’t exist. “Steward Hingus Dingus says their confident they have a super majority of votes”

  • DevCat@lemmy.world
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    The primary responsibilities of one job at a Marshalls in Miami Beach, Florida, are to maintain a “proper and professional stance” at the front of the store, act as a “visual deterrent to prevent potential loss/dishonesty” and wear a company-issued body camera. The description says that the camera is to record “specific events involving critical incidents for legal, safety, and training purposes.”

    These employees, who wear a company-approved black vest, black pants and black shoes, are instructed not to stop or chase after shoplifting suspects.

    It’s the same reason I made sure the security cameras on my house are visible from the street. People with bad intentions just move on to easier targets.

    They may have seen the studies down on police forces who adopted cameras. They saw a drop in complaints against officers, as well as fewer escalations by the public against officers. Likewise, they’re hoping this translates to retail.

    • Flying Squid@lemmy.world
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      Stores are already full of security cameras. Shoplifters are generally aware of this. I’m not sure what this adds to that. I suppose it keeps someone employed.

    • FuglyDuck@lemmy.world
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      It’s the same reason I made sure the security cameras on my house are visible from the street. People with bad intentions just move on to easier targets.

      no they don’t.

      they wear a hoodie. or a ball cap. or they have a package to block their face. or any of a hundred other ways of making a camera useless on the cheap.

      Your highly visible cameras only tell them you can afford some good shit. I’m not saying you shouldn’t have cameras- and they’ll usually be visible if you know what to look for… it’s kind of necessary for them to function… But cameras are not a deterrence, and neither are they an active element in your security. They are passive, and really only useful when dealing with insurance or explaining what actually happened in the first place.

    • Lost_My_Mind@lemmy.world
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      One massive MASSIVE problem with that logic. TJ Maxx/Marshalls employees don’t have a pre-existing stigma as being known for beating and killing black people and getting away with it. These employees aren’t known to single people out, harass them, stalk them, and make life hell for them.

      So if the cops behavior changed because they’ll be held accountable, it’s not quite the same thing as store employees already surrounded by cameras, and always have been held accountable for their actions. If they wanted to use this for shoplifting purposes they’d hire more back of house people to actively monitor cameras, and more human security guards to react live as it happens to theft.

      As it stands, all they’re doing is getting yet another video angle of what they already have footage of. This time with a fisheye lense.

  • IzzyScissor@lemmy.world
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    1 month ago

    I’d imagine the biggest difference is that these employees could actually get fired if they turn theirs off.

  • Sterile_Technique@lemmy.world
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    1 month ago

    I have a proposal for the next iteration of Tik Tok challenges, or whatever medium we’re using to flaunt our bad decisions now-a-days: steal the cameras right off the employees.

    • afraid_of_zombies@lemmy.world
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      1 month ago

      Rogue: I roll to steal the camera

      DM: you want to steal the camera looking for thieves off the chest of the guy also looking for thieves.

      Rogue: yes

      DM: no.

      Rule lawyer: it’s his right to roll

      DM: fine

      *Rogue rolls a nat 20

      DM: fine whatever somehow no one notices

  • o_oli@lemmy.world
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    1 month ago

    I noticed in my local supermarket in the UK they started wearing cameras too it’s really weird. I’m really not sure what their goal is - it will never help shoplifting as much as static cameras, and seems a lot of effort to safeguard against abusive customers.

    • Drusas@kbin.run
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      I just want to say that I appreciate how your comment has made me understand that writing run-on sentences without punctuation isn’t a strictly American English language thing.

      This sounds mean-spirited of me, but I actually mean it. Everybody always makes fun of the Americans for it. And I’m not saying I’m perfect, either. Poor grammar can bring us all together.

    • Maeve@sh.itjust.works
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      Can’t have people who can’t afford to eat actually eat? This is sad, and it doesn’t bode well, for global society.

  • Zier@fedia.io
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    1 month ago

    Hey! Who want’s to shop at a retailer where someone follows you around with a camera and the merchandise is overpriced? Raise your hand now! [crickets] Consumers will shop elsewhere. Making your business like the DPRK is not a winning strategy.