Retail Crime Trends

The National Retail Federation’s NRF ninth annual Organized Retail Crime (ORC) survey, found recently that 93.5 percent of retailers have been a victim of organized retail crime in the past year, down slightly from 96 percent. Still, eight in ten surveyed believe that ORC activity in the U.S. has increased over the past three years.

Another area of concern is store credit merchandise/gift card fraud. Nearly 78 percent of survey respondents said they have experienced boosters who return stolen merchandise without a receipt, and receive store credit via a gift card. These criminals then sell the merchandise credit for cash to secondary markets that include kiosks, pawn shops and check cashing stores. While defrauding processes are being put in place, the NRF says retailers continue to lose millions of dollars to this scheme.

Another distressing trend in organized crime activity is the propensity for thieves to resort to violence to avoid being apprehended, putting store personnel, law enforcement and customers at risk. According to the survey, two in ten apprehensions lead to some level of violence, up from 15.2 percent last year and 13 percent in 2011. On the bright side, awareness among law enforcement officials is at an all-time high. Nearly half (48.1 percent) of retailers said they believe law enforcement understands the complexity and severity of ORC, up from 40 percent last year and the highest percent reported in the five years of asking this question.

Nearly six in ten believe top management at their organization understands the severity of ORC. Still, more needs to be done at the federal level. NRF said it strongly believes that ORC must be addressed through federal legislation, by amending the Federal Criminal Code to effectively address the issue, and ORC must be defined as a federal crime with appropriate sentencing guidelines.