The massive wave of retail thefts in the United States over the past two years have become a major challenge for both the retail industry and law enforcement.
Weakened law enforcement policies and lesser penalties for these criminal bandit gangs have hit a critical juncture, as crime in the United States has hit proportions not seen in three decades.
The number of increasingly professional organized retail crime (ORC) rings and their frequent attacks have reached crisis scale, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF) in a Sept. 14 report.
These crimes have hurt thousands of businesses and have contributed to higher prices for consumers and loss of key retailers in many communities, as countless stores have closed to due to lack of security.
“The factors contributing to retail shrink have multiplied in recent years, and organized retail crime is a burgeoning threat within the retail industry,” said Mark Meadows, NRF vice president for research development and industry analysis.
“These highly sophisticated criminal rings jeopardize employee and customer safety and disrupt store operations. Retailers are bolstering security efforts to counteract these increasingly dangerous and aggressive criminal activities.”
A Spike in Organized Thievery
According to the 2022 National Retail Security Survey, issued by NRF, the total loss of stolen goods hit $94.5 billion by the end of 2021, up from losses of $90.8 billion in 2020.
The NRF found that the average shrink rate in losses for 2021 was 1.44 percent, a slight decline from the previous two years, but comparable to the five-year average of 1.5 percent.
Acts of fraud are being reported across all venues, ranging from brick-and-mortar stores, e-commerce, and omni-channel platforms since 2020.
A sudden increase store violence is another growing area of concern, such as random attacks on store personnel, robberies, and ORC gangs.
The majority of surveyed retailers reported a 89.3 percent increase in violence and a 73.2 percent uptick in shoplifting.
By Bryan Jung