Sainsbury's introduces AI security cabinets in latest bid to tackle spike in shoplifting

22 February 2024, 17:18 | Updated: 22 February 2024, 17:21

Sainsbury's is trialling new electronic security cabinets
Sainsbury's is trialling new electronic security cabinets. Picture: Alamy/Social media

By Emma Soteriou

Sainsbury's is introducing AI security cabinets in a bid to tackle growing numbers of thefts.

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The supermarket giant has started trialling locked self-service cabinets in its alcohol aisles.

The Freedom Case tech has only been rolled out across a few stores so far, including in St Albans, but could be used more widely if it proves successful.

Customers are required to go through a four-step touchscreen process to open the cabinet, with built in sensors being used to track activity and identify potential thefts.

The 'Active Deterrence' system can be triggered depending on the length of time the doors are open and if anything inside has been moved, according to creators Indyme.

A Sainsbury's spokeswoman said: "The version we are trialling does not require any customer information, data, or loyalty card."

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Bottles of alcohol have been put in AI cabinets to prevent shoplifting
Bottles of alcohol have been put in AI cabinets to prevent shoplifting. Picture: Social media

Customer Anne Banks, 67, told the Mal: "It seems unnecessarily complicated doesn't it?

"If someone's going to steal a bottle of vodka they're not going to nick the expensive stuff anyway when there's plenty of the cheaper bottles lying around.

"I don't like anything that makes me feel people are checking up on me, and so I'll avoid using these things when I can."

Sainsbury's is not the only supermarket to have begun cracking down on shoplifting, with Tesco and Aldi among the stores to have rolled out security tags on more items in recent months.

The British Retail Consortium's (BRC) annual survey found that the amount lost to shoplifting in the latest year was the highest ever recorded.

The number of incidents against staff rose by 50% to 1,300 per day in the year to September 2023, from 870 the year before.

About 8,800 of the total across the year resulted in injury.

Bottles of alcohol are among the most commonly targeted due to their high cost.

Earlier this month, a pair of masked shoplifters were even caught on video running into a branch of Tesco in London and helping themselves to booze from a fridge.

Incidents have remained significantly higher than before the pandemic, and were on a par with Covid-era levels last year.