Organized Retail Crime Conference

Nov 4, 2021
Written by Mark Johnson, Senior Vice President of Policy and Government Affairs

Last week I had the honor of presenting on the “ORCA’s in Action” organized retail theft webinar sponsored by Loss Prevention Magazine.

Nearly 200 individuals attended the webinar, including loss prevention officers, asset protection specialists, law enforcement, policymakers, and company representatives from across the country. This free webinar included four sessions: Dissecting Success: An Inside Look at Operation Bleeding Edge, Steal Now, Pay Later: ORC Recovery to Recoup ORC Losses, The Carrot and the Hammer: The Education Bargaining Chip for Stricter ORC, and an update on the National ORC Movement.

I had the opportunity to highlight the fine work the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention has been doing to fight for tougher penalties for ORC offenses. They have also been encouraging retailers and local governments to unburden police by giving low-level, non-violent, first-time offenders a second chance by requiring they complete an educational course. This way, police can focus on the worst of the bad ORC actors that account for most of the theft and often create unsafe situations in our stores and communities.

I also highlighted a new diversion program in Pierce County, Washington, called the Crisis Recovery Center (CRC.) This innovative center opened in August to treat offenders and others suffering from mental illness and substance addiction. The hope is that the CRC can help break the theft cycle by getting individuals the help they need and keeping them out of our judicial system and hospitals. Initial results from the CRC are promising.

Finally, I wrapped up with potential solutions and initiatives that have been formed to address public safety and retail theft. I mentioned the new Public Safety Alliance of Washington, the Seattle Safety Alliance, and the efforts in Tacoma to form a safety coalition.

I concluded with Washington Retail looking to other states like California and Arizona for models of Organized Retail Crime Taskforces formed by the State Legislatures and Governors usually under the jurisdiction of the State Attorney General.

I appreciate the invitation to address the group and look forward to helping combat organized retail theft and making our stores and communities safer for customers and employees alike.