Retailers face a huge battle in their fight against shrink.
In addition to reducing the individual hauls of shoplifters, either those who pose as customers or work for the store, asset protection experts also must combat theft on a second front. No longer are items stolen only for personal use, enterprising criminal networks target goods that deliver substantial returns, either listed with keywords typical to organized retail crime on social media platforms or on display at flea markets.
“What [retailers] are dealing with is a high frequency of theft, repeat offenders, and large quantities of merchandise being stolen—really, indicative of organized groups,” David Johnston, vice president of asset protection and retail operations for the National Retail Federation, told CBS News in an interview. “When someone sweeps a shelf of Tide detergent or looks at taking an entire shelf of white strips, that’s not for personal consumption. There’s something behind them.”
Even more troubling than retailers’ losses is that many of these rings use these large-scale thefts to help fund other serious crimes. Raul Aguilar, who oversees international organized crime cases for the Department of Homeland Security, told ABC News that law enforcement officials are linking violent crime syndicates—drug cartels, suspected terrorist groups, and human traffickers—to established ORC networks.
ORC: 2023 BY THE NUMBERS
Retailers' losses are mounting. According to the Coalition of Law Enforcement and Retail, these sophisticated operators are responsible for $45 billion in annual losses. The 2023 Mid-Year Organized Retail Report, published by D&D Daily and retail crime intelligence platform Auror, revealed:
- ORC cases increased 18% over the same period in 2022.
- The dollar amount increased 131%.
- The top 15 cases alone totaled $180 million, including an $86 million theft in Los Angeles, $3.5 million in a Kent, Washington pawn shop scheme, and $2.6 million in luxury watches in Staten Island, New York.
“Everything points to a continuing increase in retail crime,” Cory Lowe, a senior research scientist at the Loss Prevention Research Council told Investors Business Daily.
PLACE A STRATEGIC FOCUS ON PARKING LOT SECURITY
While parking lots may not be the scene of the ORC crime, they serve as the front line to combat these incidents. Asset protection professionals know the best defense is a great offense—and stopping criminals before they enter the store is the ultimate goal.
Relying on staff to catch shoplifters puts people in danger, so retailers must employ innovative technologies and perceptive processes instead. Here are five strategies that will help keep bad actors outside and empty handed:
1. BUILD COLLABORATIVE PARTNERSHIPS WITH LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT
Retailers who implement a wide range of parking lot security measures, like mobile surveillance units, by default become strategic partners with the police. These efforts demonstrate to local police that a retailer takes responsibility, wants to help solve the issue, and respects the roles and resources of law enforcement.
By establishing these collaborative ways of working, retailers can share useful information and police can maximize their resources. By responding only to the most important incidents, police will have more time to offer valuable insights to help a retailer’s investigation and solve crimes.
2. IMPLEMENT INNOVATIVE PARKING LOT CAMERA TECHNOLOGIES
“Every bit of research shows that a small portion of the offending population is responsible for the majority of incidents,” Lowe also told Investors Business Daily. He also provided an example where a retailer’s case management system reported that 10% of the known offenders were responsible for 90% of their losses.
Innovative parking lot camera technologies, like LVT mobile security units, facial recognition monitors, and automated license plate readers, help security teams hone in on—and deter—perpetrators while collecting data that can preempt a future theft.
3. INTEGRATE PARKING LOT SECURITY SOLUTIONS WITH IN-STORE TECHNOLOGIES
Connecting security cameras, networks, and systems gives asset protection professionals and security personnel the upper hand when moments matter. Having access to real-time information, as well as integrated case system databases and product scan accuracy technologies not only protects products—it helps asset protection leaders prioritize people’s safety.
4. SCHEDULE REGULAR SECURITY ASSESSMENTS
Conducting continuous threat assessments will help level up security strategies. Regularly analyzing specific locations in relation to the contributing factors from past incidents can help predict future issues, mitigate risks, and in the event of an ORC event, help security professionals and law enforcement respond safely, swiftly, and efficiently.
5. CONDUCT ONGOING TRAINING FOR ASSET PROTECTION SECURITY PROFESSIONALS
Engaged and appropriately trained security professionals are retailers’ most valuable security assets. Comprehensive planning and simulations will pay dividends by providing employees with the confidence and resilience to act. Despite the stress, chaos, and adrenaline in the face of potential threats, security personnel will be ready.
Our customers trust LVT to defend their parking lots. From reliability and flexibility to easy deployment and advanced technology, an LVT Unit, backed by its cutting-edge security platform, delivers unparalleled results in the fight against ORC. Contact our team today to discuss your challenges and schedule a demo.