On Monday of this week, Mark Johnson, WR, along with loss prevention specialists Jerry Lerum of The Home Depot and Carl Kleinknecht, The Bellevue Collection Security, presented before the Pierce County Council Public Safety Committee on the topic of public safety, retail theft, and organized retail crime. Councilman Paul Herrera chairs the committee.
The panel shared a recent report from the National Retail Federation revealing that theft rose to more than $112 billion nationwide in 2022. Additionally, 54% of small businesses reported an increase in theft. The report confirmed that stolen products are often sold online to fund other criminal activities such as human trafficking, drugs, weapons, prostitution, and even terrorism.
Thankfully, retailers, law enforcement, prosecutors, social service providers, and elected officials are partnering to address this growing problem. A multi-pronged approach has been deployed and is starting to show results. First, telling the story of public safety, retail theft, and ORC is critical to raise awareness with our representatives and the public.
The recent enactment of the federal online transparency act has made it more difficult to sell stolen and counterfeit goods. The staffing of the statewide organized retail crime task force is nearing completion. The task force is working cooperatively with the Washington Organized Retail Crime Association, which is providing resources to small and mid-sized businesses to help protect their customers and training employees to stay safe.
Critical to the effort’s success is enacting further measures, in particular to allow law enforcement to safely, with training and approval, pursue suspected property criminals in vehicles. Thankfully, the legislature and local jurisdictions have adopted drug possession and use laws centered around treatment options and incentives to increase accountability.
Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier announced he is proposing a small business grant program in the county budget. These funds will be appreciated by businesses seeking to purchase theft protection devices and structures to protect themselves.
Pierce County is a leader in the battle to increase public safety and, crack down on retail theft, and thwart organized retail crime.