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Seen At 11: Artificial Intelligence Helps Retailers Bust Thieves At Self-Checkout

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The next time you're scanning items at your supermarket, beware!

You already know there are cameras, but new technology is analyzing all of your actions, waiting for a missed item.

It's all part of the checkout crackdown.

Theft has always been a problem for retailers. Losing an item means having to sell fifty more to make up for what was lost.

Many of those losses occur at checkout scanners -- by cashiers and customers. The National Retail Federation said an estimated $14-billion is lost annually in 'scan avoidance.'

"I'm gonna pass some things around the scanner, cover up the bar code, do things that don't ring up," Malay Kundu, Founder & CEO of StopLift, explained.

The scams are brazen -- as blatant as throwing items down the belt -- sometimes accidental -- forgetting to scan things left in a cart, or customers getting frustrated at the self-checkout.

Intentional or not, there's technology that can spot it as it happens. It's called StopLift.

"It can ping you in real time," Kundu said.

Using artificial intelligence, it can read and flag checkout behaviors, suspicious transactions can be questioned on the spot, and mistakes corrected before anyone is labeled a thief.

"Call an attendant over to give you some customer service," Kundu explained.

Miguel Garcia, owner of Big Deal Supermarket in the Bronx, installed StopLift without telling his staff.

"I never expected to find something done purposely," he said, "And I was happy afterwards to see it was mistakes."

Garcia said cashiers now know to look for items on the bottom of carts, and even slow down to not miss a scan.

The system also helps with staffing.

"It also watches how many mistakes they make per 100 scans, so now you know which are your best cashiers," Garcia said.

He said with the technology, he's thinking of adding self-checkouts.

"Before it was a little tough to make that decision," Garcia said.

Tech expert Noah Birnbaum agreed, this can keep profits in the stores, even passing savings on to consumers.

"There's going to be more of this adoption to the technology and I think that over time we'll see less shrinkage in inventory loss," he said.

Consumers are five times more likely to 'forget' to scan an item at self-checkout than with a cashier.

Retailers say it's less about busting thieves and more about protecting their business.


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