Survey: Organized retail crime, individual shoplifting both on the rise

ARLINGTON, Va. — More than half of retail respondents to a survey conducted by the Retail Industry Leaders Association recently reported an increase in the frequency with which organized rings committed shoplifting, and 41% saw an increase in shoplifting by individuals acting alone. As many as 64% of respondents reported an increase in theft of pharmaceutical products, according to the 2011 Crime Trends and Leading Practices Survey released Thursday by RILA.

According to the survey results, online marketplaces continue to be a favored venue for the resale of stolen products. A majority of retailers (61%) experienced an increase in the frequency with which stolen company merchandise was resold online; none reported a decrease in the online sale of stolen goods. Retailers also reported that their stolen merchandise was resold at flea markets and storefront bodegas more frequently.

“With input from the largest retailers in America, the results provide keen insight into the state of crime in the retail industry," stated Lisa LaBruno, VP loss prevention and legal affairs for RILA. “Data detailing how crime is trending and what deterrent strategies have worked for retailers will help retailers focus their resources and develop effective strategies for mitigating risk.”

“In reviewing the results, we were disappointed, though not surprised to see the continued rise in shoplifting by organized groups and individuals acting alone,” LaBruno continued. “It’s concerning that retailers continue to fight an uphill battle against the resale of stolen goods online, in flea markets and other venues. As long as there are channels through which thieves can resell stolen goods, it will be difficult to stem the tide of organized retail crime. That’s why it’s so important that we continue to explore state and federal legislative solutions and to enhance partnerships with external stakeholders to find a solution to the growing problem of [organized retail crime].”

In addition to organized retail crime, some of the other areas highlighted in the report include crimes committed by individual perpetrators, employee theft and fraud, pharmacy theft, flash mobs, retailers’ legislative efforts, effective deterrence strategies and the role of social networking in investigations.

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