STORES Magazine - September 2017 - 57
Striking Back at Theft Inc.
Insights on how retailers can protect themselves from organized retail crime
by PAUL VACHON
ccountants classify losses from theft
rather euphemistically as part of
"inventory shrinkage." But everyone
knows what that usually refers to: lost
revenue due to theft.
While the everyday, garden variety
shoplifter is a perennial thorn in any
merchant's side, focusing solely on the
lone thief diverts attention from a much
larger and more pervasive threat to a
store's profitability: organized retail
crime. Think of it as shoplifting
The uptick in ORC is responsible for
the changing statistical landscape of retail
inventory shrinkage. According to the
2017 National Retail Security Survey
from the National Retail Federation and
the University of Florida, the value of
merchandise taken in the average shoplifting
incident is $798. In 2014 it stood at only
$318. The report indicates that shoplifting
has exceeded employee theft and is the
largest component of overall shrinkage.
Just what makes ORC "organized"?
Security experts distinguish between the
individual who takes advantage of an
inattentive sales clerk and the ringleader
of a group engaged in large-scale theft
that traffics in stolen goods.
There are different models of ORC,
a few of which were described recently
during a webinar presented by
Protection One, a division of ADT
security, which used actual cases to
illustrate its points.
One concept resembles a pyramid.
Detective Miguel Garcia of the Miami
Dade Police Department describes the
first rung as "boosters."
"Boosters are individuals or a group
of people that go out, target and steal
consumer goods - clothing, over the
counter medications, perfume and the
like - and 'fence off' [hand off the
goods to their boss] to a secure location
and make money," Garcia says. On a
good day, boosters might steal between
$700 to $1,200 worth of goods.
STORES September 2017 57