Blue Line

Features
Bridging the gap in the fight against retail crime


July 25, 2021
By Brieanna Charlebois

Auror technology enables officers and retailers the platform for effective information sharing to combat theft

A new digital evidence management system is being used to aid police in retail theft investigations.

Auror is a database program that grants officers access to imagery and evidence supplied by retailers to aid police in cases of theft, fraud and other criminal acts. Its purpose is to save frontline officers time by allowing remote access to images and video of the crime. It was created after its founders realized more than $100 billion was lost worldwide every year by retailers, but found there was no effective technology being used to report, solve or prevent these types of crime.

“We weren’t equipping our stores with the ability to easily report and use actionable intel to prevent repeat subjects an organized retail crime groups from impacting their stores. We needed to address it and did so with Auror,” said Daryl Blackmore, director of Loss Prevention at Rexall. “Now we have real time visibility of what’s occurring which allows us to better coordinate initiatives with stores, loss teams and senior management. It’s a real game changer.”

While the system has been operating in New Zealand and Australia for years, it officially launched in North America in May 2019 in partnership with Rexall. The system has since been adopted by several major North American retailers.

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How it works

Stores can report situations by uploading video or images onto the platform. Every time an incident is reported, alerts are immediately sent to the Auror Loss Prevention team. The platform also creates visibility so other stores can prevent future losses perpetrated by the same individual. External investigators then have an overview of various analytics to investigate and identify groups or repeat offenders impacting the business.

“The system is out there. All you have to do is ask for access.”

Auror is a cloud-based program that does not alter the evidence uploaded, but allows the transfer of evidence at the officer’s convenience. Rather than travelling to the store, police can review and download video, see images and check any link analysis from anywhere once the incident is reported by retailers. Officers assigned to a file on Auror can also communicate with the affected location on the platform to request further details on the event to better aid an investigation.

“This platform is the modernization of loss prevention reporting and partners with our law enforcement colleagues in the pandemic by offering a “contactless” experience,” said Nigel Ramoutar, external fraud and crime specialist at Rexall.

Implementing the platform

Various police officers across Canada have begun using Auror. Among them are York Regional Police Detective Constable Daniel St. Amand and Peel Regional Police Detective Constable Zack Breault.

St. Armand said, when he discovered the platform, he saw it as a major opportunity to utilize the technology to streamline investigations.

“The program illustrates the nature of repeat offenders,” he said. “This is exactly what we should be doing as law enforcement to share information on a platform that we can all look at because this system clearly illustrates a pattern of repeat offenders for this type of crime.”

Another benefit of the platform is that it breaks down barriers, allowing for teamwork and partnership across different units and departments.

“It all comes down to effective communication and information sharing. By working together, we’re able to close more cases effectively,” said St. Amand. “It’s imperative that we hold people accountable for committing these crimes so, if we had this across the entire retail spectrum, I guarantee if we had solved at least 50 per cent if not more crime than we currently are solving.”

He said the system is set up similarly to how intelligence officers put together suspect charts.

“The intelligence based side of this system is completely user-friendly, and absolutely critical for us to solve more crime,” he said.

Breault agreed. He said he believes Auror is an additional resource police can leverage and utilize to their benefit in the field.

“I think that the platform is effective because when investigating property crimes, whether they’re in the retail capacity or not creating length or developing links to similar fact offences, it can really expedite the solvency of crimes,” said Breault. “I think this platform, once it’s being used more consistently by retailers and police, will only benefit the investigation of these types of offences.”

The platform is available for free to any officer interested in utilizing the technology to aid in investigations and promote effective information sharing.

“Most retail thefts and minor property offenses are small stuff but they add up to big dollars,” said St. Amand. “So, if we can curb some of the larger organized groups by sharing information in this manner, then it’s a win-win as far as I can see. The system is out there. All you have to do is ask for access.”