Facial recognition technology leads to arrest at Albuquerque store

Technology

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Your face might be scanned against a database of photos the next time you walk into an Albuquerque retail store. A recent arrest at a northeast Albuquerque grocery store shows facial recognition technology is being used to help identify certain individuals.

According to a criminal complaint, 23-year old Anthony Sena was arrested at the Albertsons on Montgomery near San Mateo Wednesday morning after the store’s surveillance camera autonomously identified Sena’s face, then alerted loss prevention officers as Sena walked in the store.

The technology is something many people KRQE News 13 spoke with Wednesday didn’t even know was being used inside the store.

“No, I’ve never heard of retail stores using that at all,” said Janice, who was shopping at the Albertsons Wednesday afternoon.

Another shopper in the nearby area, Riley Pinak told KRQE News 13 he’d “Never heard for anything like that.”

The technology may have been a surprise for Anthony Sena, as well. According to a criminal complaint, Sena ran from an Albuquerque police officer at the store who tried to speak with him shortly after he entered the store.

According to the complaint, the officer was trying to speak with Sena because the store’s loss prevention staff, “requested the subject to be formally criminally trespassed due to shoplifting incidents in the past.”

Court records show over the last seven years, Sena has been accused of trespassing and stealing at several retailers across the metro, including multiple Target locations, Sportsman’s Warehouse and a Walmart.

Wednesday around 11:30 a.m., an Albuquerque Police officer was working at the Albertsons on Montgomery when the store’s surveillance camera, “put out a ‘Face First’ alert for subject Anthony Sena.” The complaints states, “this alert advises (the store) when a subject known to shoplift or cause issues in their store enters the front door.”

As a police officer initially tried to speak to Sena about criminally trespassing him from the store, the complaint states Sena ran off, but was eventually caught nearby. Along with being charged with “resisting, evading or obstructing and officer,” Sena also had two misdemeanor warrants tied to other criminal cases.

According to an “overview” page on the FaceFirst company’s website, the company says it is “creating a safer and more personalized planet with facial recognition technology.” The company also states it “empowers organizations to detect and deter real-time threats, transform team performance and strengthen customer relationships.”

KRQE News 13 asked shoppers about their take on the technology Wednesday.

“I understand the privacy thing but, it’s going to help to mitigate the problems related to stolen goods,” Pinak said.

“It’s good in the fact that they’re protecting us as a society, but it’s bad because … it leaves the door open to inaccurate identifications,” said Renee, who lives in Albuquerque.

KRQE News 13 attempted asking Albertsons more about the technology Wednesday. The company responded with a two-sentence statement, saying in part, they don’t speak about security methods.

“We take the safety of our stores seriously both for our guests and our team members. In doing so, we cannot comment on the security methods utilized.”

Nancy Sharp, Albertsons Market Stores Communications & Community Engagement Manager

Albuquerque Police also never responded to KRQE News 13’s questions about if they’re aware of other stores using this technology.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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