CONTROLTEK Launches New EAS System With Five Year Warranty

ORLANDO, Fla., (April 30, 2018) – CONTROLTEK, an emerging leader in retail product protection, launched its first AM EAS system at this week’s RILA conference in Orlando.  The new system, named SAM1AM, boasts high-quality construction, network connectivity, remote tuning and 6’ entrance coverage.

“There is a need in the retail industry for a high-end AM system that doesn’t come with a high-end price and long installation delays,” said Tom Meehan, CONTROLTEK’s Chief Strategy Officer.  “The SAM1AM system we just launched is made in Europe of high-quality materials used in the automotive industry; it performs equal to or better than any AM system currently available; and offers multiple enhancement options, including people counting and analytics.  Best of all, it is available right now, and installations can be scheduled on a short notice.”

According to Meehan, SAM1AM comes with a five-year warranty.  The system easily blends into most retail environments, thanks to its clear acrylic panels and elegant design.

“CONTROLTEK established itself as the number two EAS company in the U.S. in the RF EAS space,” said Steve Sell, CONTROLTEK’s Vice President of Global Sales and Marketing.  “Expanding our solutions offerings to include AM systems is the natural progression of our growth, as we are now able to serve the entire retail industry regardless of their technology preference.  Whether it’s AM, RF or RFID, CONTROLTEK has proven high-performing systems that can be deployed rapidly on almost any scale.”

More information about SAM1AM, along with pictures and spec sheet, can be obtained on the company’s website.

What are Gait Video Analytics?

Gait analysis refers to the study of human motion (as in one’s gait, or the manner of walking). Gait analytics, as related to video and security, measure body movements and body mechanics, and are used to verify or match someone by the way someone walks. Gait analytics are somewhat similar to facial recognitions, except that they uses the body’s movement rather than face features.

Using Your Smartphone to Keep up With the Breaking News

Security professionals must stay apprised of what’s going on locally and around the nation. You can use your smart phone to stay on top of breaking news. Most news apps, like CNN, FOX News, CBS News and local stations have a breaking news alert feature. Some are more advanced than others. Download a few local and national news apps and turn on the alert notification to test. This is a great way to stay informed of incidents that may impact your organization

Artificial Intelligence in Retail
What AI is and How It Will Change Retail…Or Not

(This article originally appeared in Loss Prevention Magazine)

Artificial intelligence (AI) is increasingly being applied in many industries, and retail is now no exception. From machine learning to robots, retailers are testing and hoping AI is the answer to their two perennial challenges—expense reduction and sales growth.

What Is AI?
Artificial intelligence is the capability of a machine to imitate intelligent human behavior, as Merriam-Webster defines it. Like most buzz words, AI in reality has a very broad meaning, which allows marketers and salespeople to stretch the definition. For that reason, there is a lot of room for misconceptions.

For those of us in retail, often the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the term AI is its applicability to data analytics. More specifically, we want to know what AI can do for asset protection, from predictive analytics to true prescriptive analytics. The promise of AI here is to take the collected data, analyze it by machine-learning algorithms, and help the retailer make the right decisions.

Machine learning is computer science that gives computer systems the ability to “learn”—meaning progressively improve performance on a specific task—without being explicitly programmed. So AI, as it relates to data analytics, sounds like a dream come true, right? Then why hasn’t every retailer adopted it to solve their shrink problems?

Challenges with AI in Retail
Like all technology, machine learning has some fundamental challenges. One problem in a retail environment is that data is often too vague to translate directly into machine learning. Another problem is that the people who create algorithms often don’t have clean data to work with, or don’t fully understand which data is most important.

Retail analytics companies are slow to hire retail executives who understand retail intimately. What they do have is some very smart people who do the math and build a model, and another smart group of folks who can tell the story behind it to sell it. But often neither of these groups actually understand the problem. For example, a common sales pitch promotes using AI to find return fraud. In this case the software could be looking for deviation of normal activities. But without knowing what variables are used to determine the likelihood of fraud, the asset protection team using the system won’t know if the system is really learning to find fraud or doing simple outlier detection. I am not suggesting one is better than the other, just emphasizing that we should know the difference.

Areas Where AI Is Making a Difference
One place where AI is definitely growing in retail is with self-checkout. In the next 12 to 18 months, we can expect to really notice it there. In this area, the focus is on using advanced video analytics with machine learning to reduce shrink and fraud while improving the selling experiences. This will allow for less human involvement in transactions.

In video analytics specifically, AI has made some noticeable progress and can now take your video to a whole new level. Amazon, for example, now has a brick-and-mortar store that doesn’t need salesperson interaction. This is probably the best known example of AI using video and sensors to shape the customer experience.

Logistics is another area where we can expect AI to play a more prominent role for retail. It’s only a matter of time before drones start delivering your packages. Machine learning will enable AI systems to determine when a drone delivery makes sense based on weather, traffic, personnel availability, other deliveries in the area, and customer expectations. With AI, logistics systems will get smarter based on feedback and customer data, and all this should, in theory, improve profitability and enhance customer experience. Additionally, AI could increase end-to-end visibility throughout the supply chain. AI can help execute product shipments using real-time information with thousands of variables, finding the most efficient fulfillment route. Data and sensors with AI behind them can minimize spoilage and damage, as well as increase speed.

AI’s Fatal Flaw
AI does have one fundamental flaw—it’s not thinking like a human yet. We still need people to apply art to the science. IBM’s Watson AI application was able to beat human chess champions. But chess is a game of logic with logical moves. AI is at home in that kind of world. On the other hand, Microsoft tried to place AI in our world by having it interact with humans on Twitter. In less than 24 hours this AI system learned to be racist, spewing insults and embarrassing the company. When asked how this happened, the response was that the machine was simply learning from what was said on Twitter. Another AI robot embarrassed its makers when it said on live TV that it would never harm a human and in the very next sentence said it wanted to rid the world of water. What led it to that thought is unclear.

AI can be a great path to marrying data and machine learning to make our life easier. Certainly, for retailers it holds a great promise of improving efficiencies, driving costs down, and enhancing customer experience. Still, one really should invest time to educate oneself on what its current capabilities are and what the long-term effects will be before making any decisions to deploy AI in a big, customer-facing way.


Tom’s column regularly appears on every issue of LP Magazine. To subscribe to the printed version of the magazine and enjoy other great content visit losspreventionmedia.com

CONTROLTEK to Showcase New LP Solutions at the RILA Asset Protection Conference in Orlando

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., (April 11, 2018)CONTROLTEK, an emerging leader in retail product protection, will showcase several new loss prevention solutions at the RILA Asset Protection Conference in Orlando, from April 29, 2018 to May 2, 2018.

The company will present two new detection systems for preventing shoplifting: one for magnets and one for booster bags, that were officially launched this month.

Additionally, CONTROLTEK will present its new lineup of EAS and RFID tags, including the very popular FlatGuard, the world’s first and only tag for small leather goods.

Finally, the company will unveil a brand new LP solution that was kept secret so far.

CONTROLTEK will be exhibiting at the booth 411, at Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center in Orlando.

Phone Interviews: Why I Swear By Them

(This article originally appeared in CFInsider)

It’s a typical Sunday at my house. Dog barking. Four year old asking for snacks, asking to play a game, asking to go to the neighbors, asking to go to Chuck E. Cheese’s asking, asking, asking… What else do four year olds do? Six month old eating, crying, pooping. Sixteen year old plotting something. Thirteen year old in self-imposed seclusion in his room. Husband napping with a newspaper on his lap and hat over his eyes (maybe I won’t notice). Meanwhile, I’m trying to clean up the tornado aftermath that is my home.

My cell phone rings. Great. It can’t be good if I’m getting called on Sunday. Just the usual: a dishonest associate in Iowa (yes, people do steal in Iowa). The associate was caught red handed and is sitting in the manager’s office waiting for the other shoe to drop. She’s short term, part-time, and has limited access.

Thank God for phone interviews!

Changes in business have not left Loss Prevention untouched. We cannot afford to allow a thief to do damage over a long period and turnover is too high to expect that part-timer will still be around in two weeks when we get to the store. Our departments are being streamlined, leaving us with larger territories to cover and stretched thinner than ever. We have to react sooner but with just as much thoroughness as in the past.

For the majority of my career, I have managed far flung regions and districts, some without a major airport. The only solution: interview the suspect remotely.

I have utilized phone interviews for ten years with a modicum of success. Originally trained in the Wicklander-Zulawski method, I was trained on the job in conducting phone interviews. I began using phone interviews with some trepidation: What if the suspect hangs up on me? How will I read his behavior? How will the statement be written? With time, I began to realize that my fears were unfounded and that I actually, at times, preferred the phone interview method. Here are my top ten reasons for using a phone interview:

  1. Cost. Compare the cost of my free cell minutes to the cost of an airline ticket, hotel, food, etc.
  2. Speed. I can react quickly to an issue.
  3. Anonymity. Yes, sometimes there is a benefit to being that faceless voice on the phone. Suspects will unload their deepest darkest secrets to someone they don’t know and can’t see. Think: priest in a confessional or a phone sex operator.
  4. Family time. If I traveled non-stop to every dishonest associate in every city, I’d never get to see my lovely aforementioned brood.
  5. Implied knowledge. The suspect may believe that you have more knowledge than you actually do about the theft because he can’t read your behavior.
  6. Minimization. The suspect may be more willing to buy into the idea that his crime was no big deal since you are calling on the phone (where in the world would he get that idea?).
  7. Versatility. On the phone I could be old, young, intimidating, friendly, whatever the suspect needs to feel compelled to talk. In person, he may have been more inclined to stereotype due to looks. This is another issue you have to deal with in face-to-face interviews.
  8. Pajama factor. I can do a phone interview in my PJs, with a cup of coffee, notes spread out on the couch, and Bears slippers kicked up on the coffee table.
  9. Liability. Should one of my cases ever go to court—knock on wood, it hasn’t happened yet—I will have an easier time defending myself against false imprisonment. Can’t they hang up on me at any time? And as for coercion, how could I make a physical threat from 700 miles away?
  10. Personal connection. I am the voice in their head during an interview. At times, I can make a quicker connection and build rapport due to this.

Of course, phone interviews aren’t always the solution. I don’t recommend them for mysterious cash loss, long term associates, complex cases with multiple players, or upper level management. They also have some severe limitations for reading behavior. The interviewer needs to become an adept listener and at reading silence as well. Over the phone, silence can mean submission or it can mean the suspect walked out on you. By the way, I’ve only had one person hang up on me in ten years.

Possibly the most difficult aspect of conducting a phone interview is getting the statement. I rely on my witness to ensure the statement is written appropriately. Two more tips: be choosy about your witness and don’t let the witness and suspect put the call on speakerphone. Your witness plays a key role in assisting you with this process so make sure they fully understand their job. The speakerphone on the suspect’s end takes away the advantage of one on one intimate conversation. I’ve heard from several suspects that they completely forgot that there was a witness in the room during the interview.

Just like face-to-face interviews, phone interviews take practice. With time, investigators can add this weapon to their arsenal and increase efficiency, productivity and have more time with the screaming kids and napping spouse. Hmm, well maybe I’ll rethink the whole phone interview thing.


Stefanie is a regular contributor to the work of the International Association of Interviewers. To enjoy other great content from her and other contributors, please visit CertifiedInterviewer.com

How to Make Text Easier to Read on Your Computer

As laptops get smaller and lighter you may find that text is becoming harder to read. Here are two quick keyboard shortcuts to zoom in. To adjust the size of a web page simply do this on your keyboard: press CTRL and the + or – key to zoom in or out (on PC’s), or COMMAND and the + or – key (on the Mac).