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Fowl Play

November 21, 2022

It’s sad, but true. Theft of Thanksgiving turkeys runs rampant in November. One year, Tisdale showed up at her small church in Pensacola, Florida to prepare the Thanksgiving feast they serve to the homeless and hungry in their community. Tisdale found the ten turkeys stolen. In Salem, Alabama, the owners of Backwater BBQ arrived the night before Thanksgiving to prepare free meals for veterans and first responders. They found their thirteen turkeys stolen. Stories of turkey thieves aren’t uncommon.

Unfortunately, theft ramps up at the holiday season. A study by Business.org indicates 54% of small businessowners report increased shoplifting at the holidays. The most frequently stolen items include food, drinks, money, clothing, cosmetics, and electronics. At Thanksgiving, grocery stores across the country anticipate thousands of turkeys will be shoplifted.

Fortunately, there is new technology to try to stop such theft. The technology, called “Stoplift,” was created by Malloy Kundu of Stoplift Checkout Vision Systems. It uses AI (artificial intelligence) to analyze video, spot un-scanned items, and alert the clerk. It also flags the weight loophole of ringing in a turkey as a loaf of bread and “sweethearting,” when a cashier slips items by the scanner for friends and family members. “The people who know how to beat self checkout never scan it, may leave it in the cart, and never take it out,” Kundu said. “It [Stoplift] takes video snippets and sends to a wrist device worn by a self-checkout attendant.”

Such new technology is catching on in stores—especially with store owners looking to safeguard their businesses. David Hornbuckle of BJ Supermarkets has a background in loss prevention. He tells businessowners, “I think if you were to ask for advice, just have your employees know what to look for, invest in security measures, and protect your property.” Such prevention measures may help mitigate or prevent shoplifting.

Some Thanksgiving stories do have a happy ending. Tisdale’s community rallied—donating turkeys, hams, checks ranging up to $500, and other items so the church was able to serve 500 people. “People heard about what happened and wanted to help,” Tisdale said. “You can’t imagine the number of people who have come to our aid.” In Salem, Alabama, stores stayed open late so the owners of Backwater BBQ could purchase more turkeys and donations poured into the restaurant. However, stopping “fowl play” in the first place can save the potential personal and financial losses.



Moon, Troy. “A True Story of Thanksgiving Comes from Turkey Theft,” November 25, 2015. Pensacola News Journal. https://www.pnj.com/story/news/local/pensacola/2015/11/25/true-story-thanksgiving-comes-turkey-theft/76275504/. Last accessed October 14, 2022.

WDTN Staff. “New Technology Aims to Stop ‘Turkey Theft’ this Thanksgiving.” Miami Valley News, November 16, 2018. https://www.wdtn.com/news/local-news/new-technology-aims-to-stop-turkey-theft-this-thanksgiving/. Last accessed October 14, 2022.

Williams, Alexandria. “New Study Shows Shoplifting Increases in Local Stores Around Holidays.” KRCR, December 9, 2021. https://krcrtv.com/news/local/new-study-shows-shoplifting-increases-in-local-stores-around-holidays. Last accessed October 14, 2022.

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