Missouri store using facial recognition to keep doors locked to masked robbers

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ST. LOUIS — Overnight robberies can be terrifying, even deadly. But now some stores in Missouri are fighting back with a high tech crime fighter: facial recognition.

Facial recognition technology is being used to help keep late night store clerks and customers safe.

"It's in addition to the cameras we already have," store manager Chad Leemon said.

The way it works, is at night, clerks put up signs warning customers that facial recognition software is in use, and to please look at the above camera for entry. Only by showing your face will you get a green light to come inside.

"Don't forget to look up!" Leemon said. "That's the only way you're going to be able to get in."

If you cover your face with a mask or even a hand, the doors will not open!

The technology also allows stores to keep a profile of faces in their database, so 'known' shoplifters can be identified by face.

"They're gonna leave. They're not gonna steal. You're not going to have the violent act behind it," a retired police officer Joe Spiess said.

Spiess is a senior partner with the company "Blue Line Technology"  that created the new face-printing technique.

Spiess gave an example on camera using his CEO.

"Paul comes through! You see within a tenth of a second, he's boxed within his rut," Spiess said.

So far, no privacy groups or lobbyists have come out against the new technology being used. Regular customers don't seem to mind the new procedure, either.

"The older females tend to like it a lot more," Leemon added.

The question remains: is the feeling of added safety worth the possible loss of privacy?