Retailers deal with more theft and organized crime

Retailers in the United States have been hit by more theft and fraud than at any point over the last seven years. Retailers from Target to Macy’s to locally owned businesses have all been targets. According to an industry survey three factors have contributed to increased theft and fraud at retailers across the U.S. Those factors are less store personnel, sophisticated technology and more gang activity.

The problem of theft is significantly worse than four years ago according to the National Retail Federation, the group that conducted the survey. The industry group surveyed 129 retailers comprised mostly of national stores and found that 94.5 percent of retailers experienced theft and fraud carried out by organized criminals. The majority of retailers also said that the problem has gotten progressively worse over the last three years.

The National Retail Federation believes the increased level of organized crime at retailers is due to consumers’ desire to purchase goods at low prices, the ability to sell looted goods online or at pawn shops and low staffed security at stores.

Criminal groups target goods that are highly desired but easy to resell. For example, the most popular targeted items were Levi Strauss jeans, medication like Benadryl and Advil and Playstation 3 game consoles.

Individuals involved in organized crime groups that target retailers cooperate to steal goods between distribution centers and stores. Retailers lost $32 billion in 2009 to theft. The number comprises 1.6 percent of sales. Violence is also growing among those who commit the theft. Around 13 percent of in-store confrontations turn violent when perpetrators assault store workers.

Source: Today, “More retailers hit by organized crime, survey finds,” 6/8/11

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