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Thieving and criminal justice and barcodes together at last


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Eric Andersen, 03-15-2012

I was listening to the radio the other day about a growing trend of stealing household consumer products. What’s happening is that these products are being stolen from stores, sometimes one at a time, sometimes by the case or pallet and then are being exchanged for money and/or drugs. The middle man then sells these items to a less than reputable retail outlet who then resells the items to the unknowing consumer. One caller to the radio show, related to law enforcement, explained how it’s very difficult to use the evidence they find to prosecute anyone because they can’t prove where the merchandise came from.

How does this relate to barcode reading technology?

Basically, they were saying that certain consumer goods are easy to steal and resell because they only have a single identifier, a 1-D UPC barcode that does not contain any additional information relating to lot, production date, delivery location, etc. Would secondary barcodes containing more information deter criminals? I don’t know. But certainly a secondary code, like a 2-D Data Matrix code containing more information would make it easier to prosecute the criminals than it is today. It could also prevent additional fraud and counterfeiting down the road, providing complete traceability as the products move through the black market and often back onto store shelves. 

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