Co-op launches fog cannons to deter thieves

The Co-op has developed fog cannons to help catch criminals in their tracks as part of a multi-million pound programme of investment in innovative retail technology.

The grocery chain said that the forensic fog cannon system, designed by SmartWater and security fog specialists Protect, would initially be rolled out in food stores in South Wales, Greater Manchester and London as part of a ‘forensic first’ for a UK retailer.

Sensors within the cannon system detect intruders and deploy a blanket of fog which not only works to obscure their vision, but covers the criminal and any stolen items in a spray containing SmartWater’s forensic signature, to assist police by linking them to the scene of the crime.

The Co-op said fog cannons are particularly effective in the kiosk area - a target for criminal behaviour due to the sale of age restricted products.

An amount of SmartWater spray equivalent in size to a speck of dust could help police with identification, as the trace left lasts at least five years.

The move comes against a backdrop of rising retail crime, with the latest figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) showing the direct costs of crime rising to over £700 million.

Andrew Needham, Co-op head of retail loss and costs, said: “We know that violence and crime is about much more than statistics, it is about its impact on people’s lives and the communities in which they live and work. As a community-based organisation we see the impact of social issues in our stores, and we’re committed to playing our part and working together to do all we can to protect colleagues and make our communities safer.”

The retailer has already deployed Smart Water across its ATM estate to combat cashpoint crime, and is branching out into fog cannons in a bid to bring down rates of theft and damage in its stores.

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