How to Request CVS Surveillance Tapes

By Timothy Mucciante
In-store video surveillance as a loss-prevention tool is becoming very popular among U.S. retailers.

caméra de vidéo surveillance verticale. image by Bruno Bernier from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>

CVS/Caremark Corporation is a pharmacy services company. There are approximately 7,000 CVS pharmacy/retail stores throughout the United States. The initials CVS originally stood for "Consumer Value Stores," but now corporate insiders say it stands for "convenience, value and service." In 2006, CVS joined other large retailers and installed an in-store video surveillance system called the Video Investigator, made by IntelliVid Corp., which is designed to monitor and analyze shoppers' movements in an effort to thwart shoplifting.

Make an informal request to the store manager. Like most major retailers, CVS has a loss prevention department whose main goal to is to reduce in-store loss from shrinkage. One tool that is used in these efforts is video surveillance. However, getting access to that video footage can be a challenge. CVS is a corporation, and under most state corporate laws CVS has the same rights as a person, including the right of privacy. Therefore, CVS as a private entity has no obligation to provide access to its store video surveillance. Of course, if it chooses to do so, CVS may provide access to its surveillance tapes. Mike Deangelis, spokesman for CVS, confirms that CVS managers have the authority to show video surveillance footage to anyone they determine in their discretion has a right to see it--so the best place to start with a request to see surveillance tape is the CVS store from which the footage is sought. If the local CVS store manager will not allow access to the footage, a written request can be sent to the CVS Corporate Loss Prevention Department at CVS Caremark Corporation, One CVS Drive, Woonsocket, RI 02895, (401) 765-1500.

Try asking for a criminal subpoena to be issued. In the event CVS chooses not to voluntarily turn over the requested video footage, using state or federal rules of criminal procedure, CVS could be compelled to preserve and produce video surveillance footage. Each state and the federal criminal justice system have different rules for having subpoenas issued to either corporations or individuals for the production of video footage. Generally, it would be best to look at the individual state rules for the state where the particular CVS store was located for the specific rules to be followed in this regard.

Consider issuing a civil proceeding subpoena if steps 1 and 2 are not fruitful. Like the criminal procedure rules, various state and federal civil procedure rules could be used to compel CVS to produce video records. A civil procedure would be something like a lawsuit between two parties or a state administrative procedure. If there is a reason pertinent to the lawsuit or proceeding, one of the parties to the proceeding could issue a subpoena to CVS to produce the video records that are requested. CVS has repeatedly said that it is their policy to fully cooperate with law enforcement and lawfully-issued subpoenas for video footage.

About the Author

Timothy Mucciante has worked as a lawyer and business consultant, and has been writing professionally since 1981. His writing has appeared in the "Michigan Bar Journal" and many corporate publications. Mucciante holds both a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Michigan State University and a Juris Doctor from Michigan State University/Detroit College of Law.

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