Retailers have been sounding the alarm for years about the escalating costs tied to habitual theft and organized retail crime (ORC). The expansion and growth of online marketplaces in the past decade has significantly amplified organized theft because stolen items can be resold online anonymously. This has exponentially grown the situation at an alarming rate. This ease has also emboldened criminals, leading to more brazen and violent acts.
A joint report from Homeland Security Investigations and the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists underscores the severity of ORC. It points out that these criminal activities lead to violent attacks in retail stores, with many of these criminal rings also dabbling in other grave offenses. Disturbingly, some of these organized theft groups exploit undocumented migrants, compelling them to steal as repayment to their smugglers.
The retail industry and law enforcement have been proactive in their response. The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) and major retailers supported the INFORM Consumers Act, which promotes transparency in online marketplaces. This law, which came into effect in June 2023, is a testament to the industry’s commitment to tackling the issue. Furthermore, initiatives like the Organized Retail Crime Task Forces and the Vibrant Communities program have been launched to foster collaboration and address systemic challenges.
CNBC’s recent series on retail theft offers a perspective that might not fully capture the complexity of the situation. While they hint that retailers could be emphasizing the ORC issue to shift focus from internal challenges, it’s essential to consider the evidence from Homeland Security Investigations that suggests otherwise. It’s important not to overlook the genuine challenges retailers face daily, including those beyond potential internal issues like employee theft.