Survey: Organized Retail Crime on the Rise

While awareness of organized retail crime has never been higher, senior loss prevention executives admit the problem is getting worse, according to a recent survey.

According to the National Retail Federation’s third annual Organized Retail Crime survey, 79 percent of retailers said their company has been a victim of organized retail crime within the past year. The survey also found that 71 percent of retailers say they have noticed an increase in organized retail crime activity in the past 12 months, up dramatically from 48 percent in 2006.

“Organized retail crime continues to proliferate in stores around the country,” said NRF vice president of Loss Prevention Joseph LaRocca. “Organized retail crime rings are sophisticated and smart, but with the partnerships created between retailers and law enforcement agencies, retailers have a real chance at stopping these criminals dead in their tracks.” In April 2007, NRF announced the creation of the Law Enforcement Retail Partnership Network, a secure web-based database that will help retailers and law enforcement fight back against illegal activity in stores and online.

Once organized retail crime rings steal merchandise from stores, they commonly sell the goods at flea markets or through online auction sites. According to the survey, 61 percent of retailers have identified or recovered stolen merchandise from a fence location, up from 59 percent last year. And nearly three out of four retailers (71%) also say they’ve identified or recovered stolen merchandise from an eFence operation, up from 67 percent last year.

Indicating the rise in awareness of the issue, 57 percent of retailers said their company’s top management understands the issue, compared to only 41 percent in 2006. Additionally, companies are committed to fighting the problem, with one in ten retailers spending more than $1 million dollars each year to fight and prevent organized retail crime.

The survey results include responses from 99 retailers representing all sectors of the industry including drug, supermarket, general merchandise, home improvement, apparel, department and specialty stores.