Connecting data to fight crime

New Zealand-based startup Auror is helping in the fight against crime. By using technology to harness data, Auror’s crime prevention software has already been adopted by the New Zealand Police and more than 500 retailers. Backed by Westpac’s Reinventure Fund, Auror is now exploring ways to help Westpac customers and Australians make our communities safer.

Through its Reinventure Fund, Westpac is investing in new fintech startups that can benefit customers. That includes Auror, creator of crime reporting and prevention software.

Four Kiwi friends saw that the growing problem of so-called ‘everyday’ crime – such as thefts from retail stores, supermarkets and petrol stations – costs the economy millions per day, yet often goes unreported.

By harnessing technology, they saw a way to connect these crimes via a software platform that makes it easy for businesses and police to access information and analyse data to fight crime.

In 2013 they pitched their idea to Countdown supermarkets (a Woolworths’ subsidiary). By the end of their first meeting, Countdown could see the potential and said ‘yes’.

“Having Countdown’s buy-in from the outset was a great boost. It gave us the confidence to devote ourselves to our business full-time and to build and pilot our platform,” said Tom Batterbury, Auror co-founder and Head of Product.

By early 2014, Countdown had signed up and paved the way for more customers, including the New Zealand Police. Auror signed a first-of-its-kind National Partnership Agreement with the NZ Police, which put its software into the hands of every police officer in New Zealand and provided real-time access to data and intelligence to prevent and solve crimes. And it’s making a difference.

One of the best examples has been in the fight against fuel theft.

“We’re stopping criminals at the petrol bowser and it’s benefiting the whole community,” said Phil Thomson, Auror co-founder and CEO.

When a vehicle drives into a service station, Auror (integrated with licence plate recognition cameras) automatically sends an alert if that vehicle has previously stolen fuel or is wanted by police. These real-time alerts allow the operator to switch the pump to prepay and prevent the crime before it happens, protecting the business from repeat offenders. Auror has successfully reduced drive-offs by 70-80% at user locations, all without impacting the experience for good, paying customers. With fuel theft costing Australian retailers an estimated $55 million last year, demand is especially strong for Auror’s solution. In just three short months the company has built its user base in Australia from zero to more than 160 petrol stations across the country.

Auror is also exploring new and exciting extended applications for its platform, such as helping identify and recover stolen vehicles. If Auror detects a number plate that belongs to a stolen vehicle, it sends a real-time alert to Police so they can respond and recover it. During initial trials, Police had good success intercepting stolen cars found by Auror—often while they were still on petrol station forecourts.

After seeing the potential for the Australian market, in August 2015 Westpac’s Reinventure Fund became a major shareholder in Auror.

“Reinventure’s support means a lot to us,” said Phil. “It means we can continue to invest in our business and grow. As part of our Board, we have access to Reinventure’s advice and experience with other start-ups. And together with its other investments, we have become part of a community of practice.

“Reinventure is opening doors for us in Australia and we’re exploring ways to help Westpac and its business customers.”

Today, Auror has a team of 15 people and, with an established New Zealand business and a strong push into the Australian market, their vision is to partner with all Australian retailers and police forces before taking their crime-fighting tool further afield.

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