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Increasing violence in Organized Retail Crime
Date: 02 11 2012
Loss Prevention Examiner
As Loss Prevention and Asset Protection officers, professionals in the business are prone to watch the local and national news as it pertains to retail loss prevention and theft cases. Of the events that are up for offer during the daily news, the events which stick out to the professionals are the instances of violence stemming from retail theft activity. Organized Retail Crime or ‘ORC’ is typically the driving force behind incidents of injury or death. While ORC does not corner the market on violence, assaults, stabbings, shootings and an array of other types of events occur during all types of theft apprehensions, the suspects involved are always much more expectant of apprehension. They also know how to avoid apprehension, even violently If needed.
A recent report compiled by the National Retail Federation (found here) offers shocking details regarding the rise in violence coming from ORC cases. Among those details is the fact that, as legislative hearings and experts in the industry report, these cases cost retailers $15-$30 billion annually.
Of the businesses surveyed for the report, 95% of retailers reported that they have been a victim to Organized Retail Crime in the past year. The study shows that this is a 6% increase over 2010 numbers. They also report that the offenders in the situations are more apt to resort to violence as compared to prior years.
ORC suspects are typically connected to, if not directly involved with, other types of illegal acts. These can be as simple as resale of items illegal copying of media to the far worse cases of vehicle theft, illegal immigration, money laundering and the production and sale of illegal drugs. This leads to the need for a shoplifting professional to avoid apprehension. At any cost.
ORC incidents involving ‘smash and grab’ tactics, which are much more high profile and full of witnesses, have increased significantly, which shows that the criminals are getting much more bold and desperate in their activities. They not only have enough knowledge of the loss prevention and asset protection tactics and procedural limitations, but they have less fear of getting caught.
Some of these incidents, certainly examples of the more violent cases, have resulted in stabbings, shootings and vehicular homicide. The suspects involved in the theft, when the shoplifters serve a higher organization of some sort, are participating in a ‘gateway’ activity to further personal income and status within the organization. They do not personally make large amounts of money and must procure as much merchandise as possible from several retailers on a weekly, and sometimes daily, basis. These criminals are on the desperate end of the organization and have every reason to avoid prosecution. We will cover the organization and workflow of ORC groups another time.
As the report (and several other similar reports) indicates, the apprehension and prosecution count on these crimes is dropping significantly. When compared to previous years, ORC activity rose while prosecution fell. Some of this can be attributed to retailers moving to other means of combating, or at least offsetting, the losses such as process changes, deterrence systems, and awareness training. Much of it, however, is right down to the basics of economic theory; supply and demand. The nation, and indeed the world, is facing tough economic times and the demand for high end products at grey or black market prices is very high.
While certainly illegal, ORC groups are perceived, by their customers, as offering the same merchandise at a bargain. These same customers are left uninformed as to the means of procurement and the lives of those involved. As long as the store level thefts continue, and a lessening of prosecution seems to indicate it will, the black market sales will continue. Flourish, even. And this means that the few instances of attempted apprehension will be met with thieves who are far more likely to use any means necessary to avoid prosecution.
Come back next time to discuss some of the more desirable items stolen by Organized Retail Criminals.
Be safe out there.
Good luck and Happy Hunting!