Two-thirds of US retailers see rise in organised thefts

21 Dec '19
3 min read
Pic: Shutterstock
Pic: Shutterstock

Organised retail crime (ORC) affects almost all merchants and more than two-thirds of US retailers surveyed by the National Retail Federation (NRF) recently have seen an increase in the past year. According to the 15th annual ORC study released recently by NRF, organised retail crime continues to present a serious challenge to the retail industry.

NRF vice president of loss prevention Bob Moraca said in a statement: “These criminal gangs are sophisticated, but so are retail loss prevention teams. Retailers are committing more resources and constantly evolving their tactics to fight this ongoing challenge.”

The report found that 97 per cent of retailers had been victimised by ORC in the past year and that 68 per cent had seen an increase in ORC activity. Losses averaged $703,320 per $1 billion in sales, marking the fourth year in a row that the figure topped the $700,000 mark.

Nearly two-thirds (65 per cent) of retailers said ORC is a higher priority for their companies than five years ago, while 56 per cent were allocating additional technology resources to the issue and 44 per cent were increasing their loss prevention budgets.

Among steps taken to fight ORC, 38 per cent had changed or were planning to change return policies while 37 per cent were doing the same with point-of-sale policies, 27 per cent with employee screening and 24 per cent with the way they handle trespassing.

While ORC often involves thefts from stores, 73 per cent of those surveyed had been victims of cargo theft. Theft of cargo occurred most often en route from distribution centres to stores (59 per cent), at distribution centres (33 per cent) and en route between stores (30 per cent).

Stolen merchandise is sometimes returned for store credit, usually in the form of gift cards. Those cards can then be sold for cash, and 51 per cent of retailers had found them for sale on websites while 17 per cent found them in pawnshops.

ORC gangs typically steal a mix of high-end designer products and easy-to-fence everyday necessities. Top items stolen included designer clothing, infant formula, razors, designer handbags, laundry detergent, denim pants, energy drinks, allergy medicine and high-end liquor among others.

The top five cities for ORC in the past year in order were Los Angeles, New York, Houston, Chicago and Miami, with a number of ties rounding out the top 10.

Fibre2Fashion News Desk (DS)

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