Organized retail crime is continuing to grow, with the number of dollars lost topping a key threshold for the fifth year in a row. Three-quarters of retail companies that have been victims say activity is up, according to the 16th annual (Organized Retail Crime) ORC study released by the National Retail Federation.
The survey found 75% of loss prevention executives at a cross-section of large and mid-sized retail companies said ORC activity had increased in the past year, up from 68% last year. Losses averaged $719,548 per $1 billion in sales, a 2% increase from last year and the fifth year in a row that the figure topped the $700,000 mark.
Current losses compare with only $453,940 in 2015, and the increase of nearly 60 percent comes as many states have raised the threshold of what constitutes a felony, allowing criminals to steal more before being subject to stronger penalties than a misdemeanor. Among retailers surveyed, 64% have seen an increase in average ORC case values in states where that has happened, up from 51% who said the same each of the past two years.
The top five cities for ORC in the past year in order were Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, New York and San Francisco.
“Retailers are seeing more cases and higher losses as organized crime continues to target stores, warehouses and cargo,” NRF Vice President for Research Development and Industry Analysis Mark Mathews said. “Retailers are investing millions to fight these crimes, but they need more help from law enforcement and, most of all, they need tougher laws that recognize the difference between petty shoplifting and professional crime for profit.”