Organized Retail Crime (ORC) refers to professional shoplifting, cargo theft, retail crime rings and other organized crime occurring in retail environments. ORC crimes cost retailers close to $37 billion a year.
In 2015, shoplifting accounted for 38% of retail inventory loss, according to a joint survey by the National Retail Federation and the University of Florida. That is up 7% from their 2010 survey. This loss cost retailers about $32 billion during that year, according to Fortune .
Items most commonly stolen include clothing, books, music, jewelry, watches, tires and car parts. “Everyone thinks about little Johnny stealing a pack of bubble gum, but there are also professional gangs that target stores and steal billions of dollars every year,” says Joseph LaRocca, an adviser for the National Retail Federation, in the article.
While security cameras can help identify suspects after a theft occurs, there’s plenty a retailer can do to prevent shoplifting from happening in the first place, according to the North Carolina Governor’s Crime Commission and the Specialty Retail Report.
- Greet customers as soon as they come into the store. Addressing customers removes their anonymity. Shoplifters are known to avoid stores with attentive salespeople.
- Watch for customers who avoid eye contact, seem nervous, wander the store, linger, constantly look at store employees or exhibit other suspicious behavior. Approach shoppers exhibiting suspicious behavior and ask if they need help, instead of walking away from them – that’s often enough to deter potential shoplifters.
- Encourage employees to walk around the store, down various aisles, particularly along the walls instead of just down the center.
- Maintain a clean and organized store, including racks, shelves and dressing rooms. A disorganized, dirty store tells a shoplifter the employees are not paying attention. Keep shelves and displays low, and install adequate lighting to maintain visibility throughout the store.
- Keep commonly stolen items in plain view to discourage shoplifters. Place items that are often targeted in an area in the front of the store, near the cash register or another highly visible area.
- Compare notes with your neighbors. Talk with other shop owners about any suspicious behaviors they might have witnessed. Ask employees to keep logs of suspicious behaviors to share with each other as well as with other shop owners.
- Hire an adequate number of employees – enough to give customers personal attention. Stagger lunch and break times among employees.
- Draft a shoplifting policy and enforce it. Post the policy so employees and customers are aware of it. Offer ongoing training for employees so they understand how to prevent shoplifting or how to handle a situation if it does occur.
- Install anti-theft devices including security towers at entrances, security cameras throughout the store, convex mirrors in corners and anti-theft tags on merchandise.
- Restrict the use of fitting rooms. Lock dressing rooms, and require customers to see a salesperson before using the room. Post signs in fitting rooms warning against shoplifting.
If you suspect someone may be shoplifting, never accuse him, rather ask if you can help him or ring him up. Keep the person in your sight and contact security or a manager immediately. Never try to stop the shoplifter. If the shoplifter leaves the store, provide security with a detailed description of the person, including his vehicle, if possible. Information gathered from American Alarm.
“Although many incidents go unreported, cargo crime in the United States is estimated to cost businesses several billions of dollars per year.” – Chubb Group of Insurance Companies. Here are seven ways that could help you save money and keep your employees safe. For the complete article, click here.
- Thoroughly screen prospective employees. Some cargo security experts maintain that a high percentage of cargo thefts involve inside information or complicity.
- Carefully select transportation partners and intermediaries. Remember that these companies have care, custody and control of goods once they leave your premises until they reach their destination.
- Establish a security culture within your company. Provide security training for employees, and educate truck drivers in hijack awareness and prevention.
- Factor in security when determining shipment routing. Cargo thieves often “case” known shipping points (plants, warehouses and distribution centers) and follow trucks as they depart, waiting for the drivers to stop so that they can pounce on the loads. Drivers should not be allowed to stop in the “red zone” (the first 200 miles/4 hours from their starting point) as well as known hot spots.
- Incorporate counter surveillance into the duties of security guards, and have guards patrol away from perimeters.
- Take advantage of technology. Vehicle and shipment tracking, vehicle immobilization and advanced, high-technology security seals are now available at lower cost.
- Conduct periodic security audits. Operations and personnel change, and criminals are always harvesting fresh ideas and modifying previous techniques.
Five Fraud Fighting Steps
1. Hire the right people. Approximately 44.5 percent of retail losses are attributed to store associates. In some instances, store employees are on the inside signaling to a team of thieves that are non-associated with the brand. As part of the hiring process, retailers need to carefully screen prospective employees – perform background checks combined with interview and careful resume evaluations.
2. Store associates must get training on loss prevention. Employees must know how to correctly tag merchandise and how to deal with situations where they identify in-store theft. Retailers also should educate employees on methods for preventing a loss.
3. Carefully set policies and procedures. Retailers need to define employee expectations. Make sure store associates know how to appropriately audit and double-check paperwork. If discrepancies and errors are identified, retailers must then be able to identify if the employee is stealing or if it is an instance of not following directions and the inability to perform the job. In either scenario, retailers must take corrective action and further investigate the instance.
4. Identify the difference between how to handle amateur shoplifters vs. professional criminals. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, organized retail crime accounts for as much as $30 billion in retail losses every year. There is a big difference between the amateur shopper and the professional criminal and different methods on how to handle both. Amateur shoplifters tend to steal for personal gain while professional individuals or organized gangs work to systematically steal large quantities from retailers in stores, warehouses, distribution centers and goods in transit.
5. Secure assets through the use of technology and investigative teams. In-store cameras, Internet-based video systems and software that helps retailers analyze transactions and data are technologies that retailers implement to obtain a real picture of what is happening in the overall operation, at the store level and at the associate level. Retailers also must evaluate the physical security of the building and have systems that effectively track money and merchandise. Investigative teams also are effective in identifying retail fraud and should work closely with the local police department to identify stolen property.
Source: RIS News
The Law Enforcement Retail Partnership Network (LERPnet) is a secure national database for the reporting of retail theft and serious incidents, which allows retailers to share information with each other and law enforcement. LERPnet was developed as a partnership between the FBI and several national retail associations. Click here to access the LERPnet site.
Texas Crime Prevention Association (TCPA)
Membership in one of nine regional crime prevention associations allows law enforcement and concerned citizens to partner together to prevent crime in their communities through education initiatives and community outreach. Click here for more information on TCPA.
Retail Loss Prevention (LP) and Law Enforcement Rountables
Texas Retailers Association, our member companies and local law enforcement units across the state of Texas work together to host ORC/LP Roundtables to share prevention tips and to discuss current crime trends occurring in stores. These roundtables provide an opportunity for retail LP professionals and law enforcement to network to develop good communications. Click here to view the TRA Event Calendar to find a roundtable near you. If your store or law enforcement unit would like to host a roundtable, please contact Joe Williams at email@example.com.
Two bills were introduced in 2009 to help address retail crime:
The Organized Retail Crime Act of 2009 introduced by Representative Brad Ellsworth (D-Indiana) would amend title 18, United States Code, to combat, deter, and punish individuals and enterprises engaged nationally and internationally in organized crime involving theft and interstate fencing of stolen retail merchandise, and for other purposes.
The Combating Organized Retail Crime Act of 2009 is a bill introduced by Senator Richard Durbin (D-Illinois) to combat organized crime involving the illegal acquisition of retail goods for the purpose of selling those illegally obtained goods through physical and online retail marketplaces.