Just pick up any newspaper, turn on the TV, or listen to your local LP person or police and you will likely hear some startling facts about the growing severity of retail theft.
Hayes International’s recently completed 23rd. Annual Retail Theft Survey shows that shoplifters and dishonest employees continue to steal in record numbers. For example, the Hayes Survey reported that over one million retail theft apprehensions (1,029,276) were made in only 23 large retail companies and $148.5 million in stolen goods recovered. According to survey calculations, for every $1.00 recovered by participants, $38.46 was lost to retail theft.
Next, a National Retail Federation 2011 survey of 125 loss prevention executives, revealed that 95 percent of those surveyed suffered theft losses from groups of organized crime pros. Furthermore, another survey by the Retail Industry Leaders Association reported that more than half of their respondents witnessed an increase in the frequency in which organized rings committed shoplifting, and 41% of those same RILA survey participants reported an increase in shoplifting by persons acting alone.
Organized retail crime is big business! Last year, theft rings stole an estimated $30 billion worth of retail merchandise that wound up getting sold out of car trunks, online and even to distributors who resold those items to various retail stores.
As for the damage that a group of organized and sophisticated thieves can inflict on non-suspecting retailers, here’s just one example that was uncovered this past November, when 59 individuals were arrested on the outskirts of Chicago, Illinois.
According to the State’s Attorney, estimates of the amount of stolen merchandise recovered was in the tens of thousands of dollars, and items recovered included clothing, jewelry, cosmetics, over-the-counter medicine, baby formula, DVDs and even a $5,200 vase. History shows that those who get caught have little to fear. It is well known that many of these criminals frequently receive little more than a slap-on-the-wrist charge depending on their jurisdiction, criminal record and the value of the items stolen.
Now to make matters worse:
Be prepared for a new hurdle that every retailer and law enforcement agency will have to confront in the near future, and that is the court system’s reduction in sentencing for non-violent offenders in order to help alleviate prison overcrowding.
Shoplifters, organized or not, will likely qualify for this latest craze. Below is just one of many examples that are making the headlines: I suspect that you have heard of Lindsay Lohan, her alleged shoplifting incident and of her almost laughable disrespect of criminal court sentencing procedures. Lohan, who has served time previously, was allowed to serve her sentence at home because she was treated as a non-violent offender. Yes folks, shoplifting continues to flourish not only because it is a low-risk and high- profit endeavor, but now those convicted may meet the non-violent conviction criteria and receive a Get out of jail free card! $