Organized Retail Crime on the Rise


The National Retail Federation has released its 2012 Organized Retail Crime Survey which reports that 96% of retailers were victims of organized theft in 2011. The following definition provided by the organization explains the difference between this form of crime and the more well known forms of retail theft such as shoplifting: “Groups, gangs and sometimes individuals who are engaged in illegally obtaining retail merchandise through both theft and fraud in substantial quantities as part of a criminal enterprise. These crime rings generally consist of ‘boosters’ – who methodically steal merchandise from retail stores – and fence operators who convert the product to cash or drugs as part of the criminal enterprise.”

1) Of the ten metropolitan areas with the highest level of organized retail crime, six have consistently made the list since 2010: Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami and New York. Also included were Baltimore/Washington D.C, Atlanta, Phoenix and San Francisco/Oakland.

2) Retail theft is not restricted to the retail outlet or store. It also includes theft of a shipment en route from the manufacturer to the distributor, at the distribution facility, from the distributor to the store and while in transit from one store to another.

3) In-store thefts by organized gangs or professionals accounted for only 10% of reported retail crime, as over 68% of companies reported thefts occurring between the distributor and the outlet. A further 43% stated that robberies occurred en route from the manufacturer to the distributor.

4) “e-fencing” or the selling of stolen goods on-line has also increased with over 73% of retailers having identified their stolen goods for sale on the internet. 69% reported this in 2011, and that figure is up from 62% in 2010.

5) 15% of apprehensions of suspected thieves have resulted in violence.

See also: ‘NRF Report Finds No Retailer Immune to Organized Retail Crime: Concerns Over Cargo Theft, Violence and Collusion Mount’ . The 2011 Organized Retail Crime Survey can be accessed here ; and the Homeland Security Digital Library (HSDL) has a number of related documents concerning this subject including, Organized Retail Crime [January 17, 2012] from the Congressional Research Service and the June 2011 ‘Organized Retail Crime: Private Sector and Law Enforcement Collaborate to Deter and Investigate Theft’, Report to the Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security, Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives from the Government Accountability Office.

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