Saturday, May 17, 2008

CSI Target

Did you know that Target has its own crime lab??

Target Forensic Services is a crime lab as sophisticated as any run by a police force. But this one happens to be owned by a retail chain. The $63 billion (in revenues) company got into forensics as a way to combat shoplifting and such crimes but has taken its skills far beyond the department store. Its seven-person team of investigators, most of them former law enforcement officials, spend 70% of their time fighting theft, fraud and personal injury cases involving Target's 1,600 stores. But the lab is also frequently tapped by city, state and federal law-enforcement agencies, including the Los Angeles Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, to solve big cases.

Target installed cameras in most of its stores in the 1980s, but that wasn't enough to really make a dent in store thefts. "We had a volume of evidence from our cameras but no expertise," says Fredrick Lautenbach, the retailer's crime lab manager. He says the company also didn't want to rely on overburdened police departments to help it solve problems with theft. So in 2003 the company created its own lab, and now much of their equipment is similar to what you find in government crime labs. But, says Craig Thrane, a video analyst for the retailer, "Target investigators can work more quickly."

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