North Philly store owner uses AI to crack down on shoplifters – NBC10 Philadelphia

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Rich Carucci’s livelihood is his North Philadelphia convenience store.

“I’ve been here for ten years,” Carucci told NBC10. “I put my life, blood and soul into this business. I live here all the time.”

However, livelihoods were threatened by vendors.

“I would say we had two or three vendors a day,” he said. “I would say we lost over $50,000 in theft. That’s a lot of money. That’s a lot of money coming out of my pocket.”

Carucci was not alone. According to Philadelphia police, retail theft in the city increased 27.56 percent in 2023 compared to the previous year.

Carucci told NBC10 he could only watch when security cameras caught a shoplifter stealing from his store. So he started looking for options beyond the cameras he already had. His search eventually led him to a new AI program called “Veesion”.

The program’s co-founder, Benoit Koenig, told NBC10 that his company feeds live security footage of entrepreneurs into its AI system. The AI ​​then analyzes the customers in the store and examines certain movements that might suggest someone is stealing. This movement can be as simple as someone slipping something into their pocket.

“When someone on the shopping floor hides something in clothes, bags, backpacks, purses, so they can act on the spot and not just see the damage,” Koenig said.

NBC10 Answers took a first-hand look at how the program works. An NBC10 response producer walked down the aisle of Carucci’s store, grabbed some candy off the shelf and put it in his book bag. Karuchi was immediately alerted on his phone.

“Okay, so when you were hiding that thing, I got the alert right away, in seconds,” he said.

It was accompanied by a video of the suspected shoplifter in action via the AlertVision app.

Carucci said shoplifting has decreased at his store since he installed the device.

“If the thefts continued like this, I would either have to close my business, close my business, or I had the other option of raising prices,” Carucci said.

Veesion said their AI is only in a few hundred stores nationwide. But it’s not the only AI program being used to crack down on crime.

The Loss Prevention Research Council (LPRC) at the University of Florida is examining various mass theft prevention measures.

LPRC director and founder Dr. Reed Hayes said his team is working with 110 tech companies and 88 retailers, including Target and Walmart, to help reduce store losses.

“None of them have told us that shoplifting or theft or damage is down or flat,” Hayes said.

Hayes’ team works in a virtual store of sorts and has done hundreds of real-world projects with store simulations, multiple surveillance cameras and locking devices for merchandise.

Hayes said they have also studied AI as a possible solution.

“There’s AI that can pick up if you’re not scanning something at the checkout yourself,” he said.

Carucci told NBC10 that AI technology is helping him keep more money in his pocket.

“It’s been a godsend and it’s been worth ten times more,” he said.

Philadelphia police said retail theft continued to rise in 2024 and was up 30 percent from the same time last year.

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