Retailers Can Combat Organized Retail Crime
Nov. 7, 2016: By Hedgie Bartol, Retail Business Development Manager, Axis Communications
Think organized retail crime is a minor issue? Think again.
The National Retail Federation (NRF) recently released its 2016 Organized Retail Crime (ORC) survey. For the first time in the 12 years that NRF has been releasing its annual report, all 59 senior retail loss prevention executives surveyed reported that they had experienced ORC in the past year. This is up from 97 percent in 2015. In addition to the increase of incidents, the scope of the losses has increased, with the average being $700,259 per $1 billion in sales.
While many criminals are turning to pawn shops or online marketplaces to offload stolen goods, according to the NRF survey, criminals are also manipulating store return policies. Sixty-eight percent of the survey respondents said they had experienced thieves returning stolen merchandise for store credit.
However, the good thing is that there is more awareness and solutions to combat the issue. The NRF reported that 71 percent of loss prevention professionals believe their top management now understands the severity and complexity of the crimes.
While some of the key tools to combat ORC are the same retailers have been using for decades, newer technology is now allowing them to be more effective. For example, higher resolution surveillance video is allowing loss prevention professionals to work with law enforcement to make a stronger case. Historically, poor quality, grainy video clips have not held up well as forensic evidence in court. This is especially relevant since the major difference between opportunistic shoplifters and ORC is the organized criminal network of shoplifters and sellers of stolen goods. Where a retailer may try to bring a case against an individual shoplifter, ORC prosecutions can involve multiple store locations or even multiple retailers or third-party logistics company.
Additionally, today’s technology can help prevent crime before it can even occur. By integrating analytics solutions into video and on-shelf tracking systems, retailers can keep better track of the inventory and recognize areas of weakness. By reinforcing key shrink areas, with either additional staff or monitoring, retailers can prevent a shrink incident from happening. Leveraging public view monitors or video monitoring signage can also be an effective deterrent for potential thefts.
As much as members of retail theft organizations want to steal products, they would rather not get caught and will avoid potential risky situations. While ORC members are getting smarter, retailers can leverage smart technology to stay one step ahead and combat shrink.