Australian Retail Giants Use AI Software to Catch Repeat Shoplifters


TL;DR Breakdown

  • Australian retailers, including Woolworths and Bunnings, use AI software Auror to combat shoplifting and identify repeat offenders.
  • Auror’s AI system swiftly detects suspicious activity, sending real-time alerts to security personnel and aiding in the apprehension of thieves.
  • While AI technology has proven effective in combating retail crime, concerns about privacy laws and the handling of sensitive data remain.

Artificial intelligence (AI) has become an integral part of modern life, and its applications are not limited to virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa. Major Australian retailers, such as Woolworths and Bunnings, are now employing AI software called Auror to combat the pervasive issue of shoplifting.

Auror leverages captured information for detection

Auror CEO Phil Thomson explains that the software specifically identifies shoplifters. Retailers can upload images of suspected thieves into the Auror platform, which cross-references them with reported crimes to determine if the same person is involved in multiple offenses. The AI system deployed by Auror can detect potential criminal activity in real-time and immediately alerts security personnel. Importantly, the software operates within the store’s captured information, mitigating concerns about live facial recognition and potential privacy breaches.

While retailers have been experimenting with AI and facial recognition for some time, Auror takes a different approach. It does not employ live facial recognition or reference external internet sources. Instead, it relies solely on information already captured during in-store crime.

Privacy concerns surrounding AI use by retailers

Nicholas Davis, an emerging technologies expert at the University of Technology Sydney, suggests that the use of AI by retailers may raise concerns due to the lag in privacy laws. Davis explains that combining different types of sensitive data, such as license plate information, purchasing history, and aisle visits, could reveal important details about an individual. Compliance with privacy regulations is crucial to prevent breaches of the Privacy Act, especially when retailers track customers within their stores and share such information outside their organizations.

The collaboration between Auror and law enforcement agencies plays a significant role in combating organized retail crime. Auror assists retailers in providing evidence to investigators, streamlining the process for retailers and the police. While AI technology offers powerful support, traditional police work and local expertise remain essential in the fight against theft.

Enhancing retail security with AI

Australian retailers’ adoption of AI technology and its integration with law enforcement agencies highlight the evolving landscape of crime prevention technology. Although real-time facial recognition for identifying individuals involved in serious crimes is anticipated in the future, Auror’s current implementation focuses on leveraging advanced technology to protect businesses effectively and combat theft.

Australian retailers are taking proactive steps to safeguard their businesses by implementing AI software like Auror. While Europe and other countries may be ahead regarding consumer rights concerning private information, Australian retailers are beginning to leverage AI to enhance security measures. The seamless integration of technology and human expertise promises a safer retail environment for businesses and customers.

AI is a tool to augment existing efforts

While AI continues to advance, it is important to recognize that traditional police work remains integral to the overall security strategy. AI should be viewed as a tool to augment existing efforts rather than replace them entirely. With the ongoing development of AI capabilities, the fight against shoplifting will continue to benefit from the fusion of advanced technology and traditional crime prevention approaches.

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Glory Kaburu

Glory is an extremely knowledgeable journalist proficient with AI tools and research. She is passionate about AI and has authored several articles on the subject. She keeps herself abreast of the latest developments in Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Deep Learning and writes about them regularly.

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