WASHINGTON — In the past year, organized retail crime has victimized that 93.5% of retailers queried in the National Retail Federation’s ninth annual Organized Retail Crime Survey, down slightly from 96.0% in last year’s survey.
For the past three years, more than 90% of the retailers surveyed have admitted to being victims of ORC, and 81.3% believe that ORC activity in general in the United States has increased over the past three years.
“We are extremely concerned by the organized patterns that are taking place in the retail industry right now as these crime gangs continue to find ways to maneuver the system,” said NRF Vice President of Loss Prevention Rich Mellor, in a statement. “Though retailers continue to make great strides in their fight against organized retail crime, savvy, unconscionable criminals are selling stolen merchandise for a profit that doesn’t belong to them. With the types of organized retail crimes changing in severity each year, retailers remain vigilant in their fight against ORC.”
In addition, 77.8% of retailers said they have experienced gift card fraud whereby thieves return stolen merchandise without a receipt in order to receive store credit via a gift card, and then sell that merchandise credit for cash to secondary markets that include kiosks, pawn shops and check-cashing stores.
“This is an important crime to keep an eye on, as this could easily turn from being an organized tactic to one that amateurs could adopt,” continued Mellor. “In conversations with retailers and law enforcement, we’ve learned that there are already defrauding processes being put in place, but retailers continue to lose millions of dollars to this enterprise scheme.”
Thieves are increasingly resorting to violence to avoid being apprehended, putting store personnel, law enforcement and customers at risk. According to the survey, retailers say on average two in 10 (18.3%) apprehensions lead to some level of violence, up from 15.2% last year and 13.0% in 2011.
Individuals connected to “gateway crimes,” or crimes that are known to lead to bigger crimes, such as the use of or sale of drugs and weapons, are often found to be associated with organized crime gangs. According to the survey, retailers say on average 44.8% of those apprehended for ORC are involved in gateway crimes.
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