AP NEWS
Related topics

Anne Droid’s No Dummy, She’s a Mannequin With a Photographic Memory

July 7, 1989

DENVER (AP) _ Anne Droid looks like a typical mannequin, except for an unusual twinkle in one eye. That twinkle means Anne Droid can ″see″ you. She can also ″hear″ and even ″remember.″

Anne Droid is a surveillance mannequin designed to watch for shoplifters, an idea that has caught the eye of some retailers.

″My wife is a jeweler,″ says F. Jerry Gutierrez, Anne Droid’s creator. ″We were in a jewelry store and they had a TV monitor set up, but I couldn’t find the camera. Then the jeweler showed me this tiny thing and I thought, ’My God, that would fit in a mannequin.‴

At the time, Gutierrez’s job was to restore mannequins - a business he started when he was laid off as a carpenter.

Now, the 40-year-old Gutierrez has designed a line of mannequins with built-in cameras and microphones, which he hopes business owners will use to fight shoplifting.

Gutierrez inserts a miniature camera behind a mannequin eye, and the image is projected on a monitor that can be viewed privately. For sound, a microphone is placed in one nostril. Everything the mannequin sees or hears can be recorded on videotape.

″It’s got a perspective no other surveillance system has,″ said Eric Freehling, who owns Odyssey Jewelry and Watch Out Watches in Denver.

He said when he first heard about Gutierrez’s mannequins he was interested only in getting one for his store.

″I thought it was a heck of an idea,″ Freehling says. ″Then I realized he didn’t have as much of a business background as he needed to get off the ground. With my CPA background and a lot of experience in retail I told him I’d see if I could help.″

A partnership developed, as did a spinoff from the mannequin restoration business called Anne Droid Security Systems. Freehling pitched in $115,000 to help launch it.

Basic security mannequins cost about $2,400, not including extras like a time-lapse VCR, Gutierrez said.

″One gentleman travels a lot and he wants to have a male mannequin that would ‘watch’ television to give the appearance someone is home,″ he said. ″If that wasn’t a deterrent the mannequin would double as security for him″ by recording anyone entering the room.

Gutierrez said he has an order for 10 mannequins from a major Denver retailer but wouldn’t give the company’s name and did not say how many he’s sold altogether.

″This is covert surveillance,″ he explained. ″Some businesses don’t want the customers to know they are being watched.″

Shoplifting and employee theft cost the nation $508 billion annually, said Detective Gail Riddell, who heads the Denver police shoplifting unit.

″I think it’s an interesting idea,″ said Susan Henderson, owner of Bikboks, a store in a tony Denver shopping district. She has ordered a male Anne Droid for delivery in the fall and plans to use it for nighttime surveillance.