According to a survey released today by the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), America’s largest retailers report that retail crime continues to rise amidst an economy moving toward recovery.
According to the January 2010 RILA Current Crime Trends Survey:
- 78% of retailers report seeing an increase in amateur and opportunistic shoplifting
- 65% of retailers report seeing an increase in organized retail crime
- 74% of retailers report seeing an increase of stolen items being found in online market places
“These trends are deeply troubling. We have seen a steady increase in retail crimes over the last year as criminals continue to take advantage of the economic climate to expand their activity,” said Casey Chroust, executive vice president, retail operations. “Not only are retailers presented with additional challenges due to these increases in crime, but communities and consumers lose when the proceeds from these crimes are used to fund additional criminal activity.”
When stolen goods are mishandled or altered, the health and safety of end users can be jeopardized. In most cases, consumers are unaware of the unlawful source of the products purchased from anonymous sellers. This is of particular concern when sensitive items such as baby formula, diabetic test strips and over the counter medicine is involved.
The Retail Industry Leaders Association’s (RILA) Current Crime Trends Survey was first released in December of 2008 examining the observations, actions and reactions of retailers in correlation with the existing economic downturn. RILA has continued to monitor these trends over the past year, launching a follow-up survey in May of 2009 and our most recent survey in of January 2010.
RILA asked retail loss prevention professionals to report measured or perceived changes in crimes against retailers over the last 6 months. Respondents included the largest and most innovative retailers in the US, ranging from grocery, mass merchant, specialty store, apparel, electronics, appliances, and fabric and craft retail.
Retailers also rated the level of assistance and information they receive from federal, state and local law enforcement, online auction sites and other retailers when compiling cases and investigations. Retailers report that other retailers were rated as offering the most assistance and information followed closely by State and local law enforcement. Federal law enforcement was cited as offering some assistance but limited information. Online auction sites were rated as improving but still needing to provide more information and assistance.
Retailers reported that there were no decreases in stolen items being found in on-line marketplaces, pawn shops, flea markets and traditional fencing operations. Seventy-five percent (75%) of retailers saw an increase of stolen items being found in online marketplaces, 47% in flea markets, 47% in traditional fencing operations and 16% in pawn shops.
According to the report, retailers are also seeing an increase in burglary and fraud while reporting that other types of crimes, such as robbery and ID theft, are unchanged and continue to remain problems for retailers. These trends remain consistent with historical crime trends associated with economic distress and job instability; and therefore, continue to persist alongside the current economic climate.
Continued collaboration and partnership between retailers, trade associations at the national and state levels, legislators and law enforcement are identified as key tactics to halting these increases. Industry partnerships such as the Coalition Against Organized Retail Crime’s effort to enact federal legislation aimed at combating ORC are critical to deterring this criminal activity.
Four bills currently under consideration in Congress would protect consumers and communities by providing law enforcement with the tools necessary to stop this growing criminal activity. The bills, which have garnered bipartisan support, include:
- The Combating Organized Retail Crime Act of 2009, S.470, introduced by Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and co-sponsored by Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
- The Organized Retail Crime Act of 2009, HR.1173, introduced by Congressman Brad Ellsworth (D-IN) and co-sponsored by Congressman Jim Jordan (R-OH)
- The E-Fencing Enforcement Act of 2009, HR.1166, introduced by Congressman Bobby Scott (D-VA)
- The Organized Retail Crime Prevention and Enforcement Act of 2009, H.R. 4011, introduced by Ranking Member of the full House Judiciary Committee Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA),
The Retail Industry Leaders Association is the trade association of the world’s largest and most innovative retail companies. RILA members include more than 200 retailers, product manufacturers, and service suppliers, which together account for more than $1.5 trillion in annual sales, millions of American jobs and operate more than 100,000 stores, manufacturing facilities and distribution centers domestically and abroad.