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Big-City Store Turns to 'Creepy' Technology in Bid to Stop Rampant Crime

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A New York City supermarket is using facial recognition as a way to reduce retail theft from repeat shoplifters.

Fairway Market, located at Broadway and West 74th Street on the Upper West Side, collects eye scans and voice prints, according to the New York Post.

“This technology is helping our stores reduce retail crime, an industry-wide challenge that has increased dramatically over the last few years,” the market said in a statement.

“We have found that this technology — used thoughtfully and in combination with other measures we take to reduce theft — is helping prevent more crime in store.”

Fairway’s parent company, Wakefern, said in a statement that “Only trained asset protection associates use the system, which helps us focus attention on repeat shoplifters,” according to WNBC-TV.

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The company said all laws are being followed and that “retail theft and shoplifting has a high rate of repeat offense and drives up grocery costs for all customers.”

Shoppers were mixed about the idea.

“It’s a little creepy. It’s an invasion of privacy,” customer Shawn Adams, 37, told the Post.

“I don’t like it. I just don’t like Big Brother watching what I’m doing, I don’t like people to take my information,” a retiree named Claudia said.

Would you shop at a store that uses this technology?

“I think it’s horrible. I don’t want anyone to use my face,” said Andrea S., 74.

Others said the technology might be necessary.

“My initial reaction was against it, but thinking it through, I’m not anti,” said Anette Ronner, 77.

“I’m leaning towards acceptance. I think it will deter some shoplifting, which we all end up paying for eventually with higher and higher prices.”

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Shoplifting in New York City skyrocketed in 2022, according to the Post. In the 1st Precinct, incidents rose from 2,103 in 2021 to 4,061 last year, while in the East Village’s 9th Precinct, retail thefts increased from 579 to 1,467.

“Retail theft is at a crisis level in New York City,” said a representative of the group Collective Action to Protect Our Stores.

“Every day, our workers are being assaulted and stores robbed all while customers are placed in danger; we need the state and city to step up.”

“Disheartening numbers, to say the least. There’s no quick fix to something like this. Many stores just rely on the police for their issues, and that’s not realistic nowadays,” said Chris Hermann, a former NYPD supervisor who now is an assistant professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan.

In December, New York City Mayor Eric Adams held a summit with retailers to discuss ideas to reduce retail theft.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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