A new report released by the National Retail Federation details ways in which organized retail crime functions to facilitate illegal activities and evade law enforcement.
The report assesses ORC groups based in the United States, their tactics and techniques for theft and resale, and their links with other types of organized crime, NRF noted. It also identifies critical gaps in the current understanding of ORC.
Key report findings include, NRF noted:
- ORC groups largely target everyday consumer goods that offer a favorable balance between ease of theft, monetary value and ease of resale, with only 11% of the criminal groups examined in the report targeting luxury goods.
- The median U.S. ORC fencing operation handled about $250,000 in stolen merchandise prior to being caught by law enforcement.
- Fencing operations supporting organized retail crime rely on online marketplaces as a resale channel, with 45% of ORC groups reporting researchers could examine based on available fence-related information using online marketplaces for resale.
- ORC fences that conduct online resale appear to be shifting away from third-party online sellers, a channel where they face additional legal hurdles and increased scrutiny, and toward peer-to-peer websites that facilitate direct exchange between buyers and sellers.
- ORC groups rely on advanced planning to conduct their theft operations.
The threat to retail ORC poses has not necessarily been fully understood. NRF noted that significant deficiencies exist in the availability of consistent and consolidated data regarding ORC across national, state and local authorities, as well as the retail industry.
“Organized retail crime is growing as a real threat to the safety, operations and bottom line of retailers across the nation and now forms a part of the criminal and illicit financing landscape,” said Juan Zarate, global co-managing partner and chief strategy officer at K2 Integrity, in introducing the report. “The ORC industry will grow more dangerous, complex and profitable, and its illicit proceeds will fuel more organized criminal networks and operations in the United States, globally and virtually, if more concerted action is not taken to disrupt these trends. We are proud of the role we played in developing an assessment of ORC and look forward to our continued partnership with NRF.”
NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay, pointed out, “Organized retail crime has been a major concern for the retail industry for decades, endangering store employees and customers, disrupting store operations and inflicting billions in financial loss for retailers and the communities they serve. These concerns have grown in recent years, as criminal groups have become more brazen and violent in their tactics and are using new channels to resell stolen goods. NRF and its members have been forcefully advocating for the Combating Organized Retail Crime Act in Congress because it’s time for decisive action, not just platitudes and endless debate.”