The Challenge of ORC: Dive Deeper

Over the past several years, retailers have seen a measurable increase in organized retail crime and habitual theft. In their hunt for a quick profit, criminals have become more brazen and violent, putting employees and shoppers in harm’s way.

How did we get here?

Strained police resources, changes in thresholds for prosecuting theft as a felony, and the surge in popularity of online marketplaces created a trifecta perfect storm in which organized retail crime was able to fester.

Low-risk, high-reward

Prosecutorial policies across the country, specifically increasing thresholds for prosecuting theft as a felony rather than a misdemeanor, have created an environment in which retail theft is a low-risk, high-reward endeavor. Since 2000, at least 37 states have raised felony theft thresholds. That means criminals can steal higher dollar amounts of merchandise without the fear of significant jail time in many cases.

Why are some saying crime is going down? Are they right?

Some groups have incorrectly concluded that property crimes like retail theft have gone down despite felony thresholds going up. Pew published one such study. A closer look at the effects of these policy changes here. Why are these people wrong? What Pew and others that cite their work fail to account for is the fact that most retail theft goes unreported and unprosecuted. The studies that rely on police data make the false assumption that every theft is reported, when the reality is that most are not. 


In addition to advocating for effective policies at the state and federal level, retailers are investing significant resources to address this issue, with the goal of keeping stores safe and ultimately restoring vibrancy to the communities in which they operate. Explore RILA’s Vibrant Communities Initiative, in collaboration with the National District Attorneys Association (NDAA) here.

Retailers are making big investments in security and technology.

Retailers advocated for the passage of the INFORM Consumers Act, to make it harder for criminals to hide behind fake screen names and sell stolen products online.

Retailers are supporting organized retail crime task forces in states across the country and are urging every state to invest targeted resources to prosecute organized theft rings.

Mapping the impact

Organized retail crime is a challenge in communities large and small across the U.S. Criminals and bad actors don’t discriminate when it comes to targeting stores, and organized retail crime is happening in red states and blue cities. Explore the headlines state-by-state below.


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Police looking for Vermont man who allegedly stole $46K in merchandise from Lowe's

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Investigators believe 27-year-old Harley MacDonald stole approximately $46,ooo worth of items, including power tools, from the Lowe's hardware... Learn More

Fairfax County police crack down on organized retail theft: Multiple NYC rings busted in a week

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Three different organized retail theft groups have been busted in Fairfax County within the past week. The thieves have all been caught targeting... Learn More

Man arrested in Mesa, accused of stealing $2 million worth of Home Depot merchandise

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A man is facing multiple felonies for allegedly stealing about $2 million worth of merchandise at Home Depot. Learn More

Raid finds more than $1 million in cosmetics said to be stolen from CVS, Sephora and 99 Cents Only stores

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The Organized Retail Crime Taskforce of the CHP conducted a raid on a warehouse in Paramount and The Makeup Store on Whittier Boulevard in Los... Learn More

Las Vegas police bust illegal fencing operation with $300K in stolen merch

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Las Vegas Metropolitan Police say they shut down an illegal fencing operation that had hundreds of thousands of dollars in stolen merchandise. Learn More

Shoplift Ring Thwarted After 5 Steal 94 Items From Bergen Shop: Cops

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An "organized retail theft group" was arrested after a "hit and run" theft at a Nordstrom in Bergen County, police said. Learn More

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