Survey says: Spike in organized retail crime – even in NH, where laws are tougher

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MANCHESTER, NH – Cigarettes, teeth-whitening strips, high-end vacuum cleaners and cell phones top the list of items most often targeted by organized retail crime rings.

That, according to results  released Tuesday from the 11th annual 2015 NRF Organized Retail Crime survey, conducted July 13 – August 6 by the National Retail Federation.

And the bottom line? More retailers are struggling from financial fall-out due to the estimated $30 billion cost annually of organized retail crime.

Compared with a majority of states, New Hampshire has some solid laws on the books that elevate organized retail theft to a felony, but that doesn’t mean retailers aren’t suffering here as well, says Nancy Kyle, President & CEO of the NH Retail Association.

Nancy Kyle, CEO NH Retail Association.
Nancy Kyle, President & CEO NH Retail Association.

“Retail crime is always an issue for retailers, and it’s getting worse. It’s a horrific issue,” said Kyle, who defined organized retail criminals as those who steal in quantities to resell, who leverage fake gift cards, who perpetrate return fraud and return receipt fraud.

“We have some of the most aggressive retail theft laws in the country here in New Hampshire – other states would love to have the laws we have here. That doesn’t mean our retailers aren’t getting hit hard,” Kyle said.

Organized crime gangs wreak havoc on retailers, their inventory and their bottom line, says Kyle. Nearly all (97 percent) of retailers surveyed report that they have been a victim of ORC in the past year, up from 88.2 percent who said they had been victimized in 2014. And, of those who have been victimized over the past year, the survey also found more retailers this year have seen an increase in ORC activity at their own company (84.9 percent versus 60.3 percent last year).

Although technology is making it easier in some ways for retailers to track goods and merchandise, it seems the bad guys are just as tech savvy.

“If they only used their expertise to solve world hunger instead of crime,” said Kyle. “Every time a retailer gets a technological breakthrough, so do the criminals.”

She said today it’s possible for retail criminals to go online and find just about anything they need to commit crimes, from devices that disable electronic theft-prevention sensors, to sites that generate fake retail receipts and credit cards.

“It’s amazing what you can find online,” Kyle said. “It’s a really hard time to be a retailer.”

Individuals stealing from retailers are often part of a larger crime ring, using duct tape and other methods to disable security sensors.
Individuals stealing from retailers are often part of a larger crime ring, using duct tape and other methods to disable security sensors.

That said, she quickly noted that there are worst places to be operating a retail business from than New Hampshire, thanks to lobbying by the NH Retail Association.

“We have some of the most aggressive retail theft laws in the country here in New Hampshire – other states would love to have the laws we have here. That doesn’t mean our retailers aren’t getting hit hard.”

In 2010, NH was one of the first states to enact ORC legislation, making the offense a felony.

Kyle noted that organized retail theft costs the retail industry more than $30 billion dollars annually, yet only 26 states have enacted ORC legislation.

“We wanted an easy-to-use resource for loss prevention specialists, law enforcement and prosecutors,” Kyle said.

Space is still available for those interested in attending the 9th Annual Organized Retail Crime Symposium and Trade Show, set for Sept. 17 at the DCU Center in Worcester, Kyle said.

“It will blow your mind,” Kyle said.

The event is expected to draw 300 loss prevention, law enforcement and solutions provider professionals  for a day-long slate of speakers on technology and loss prevention, business continuity, workplace violence prevention, data breach, Loss Prevention 101 and more.

You can click here to read the full Organized Retail Crime report issued Tuesday by the National Retail Federation.


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About Carol Robidoux 5131 Articles
Journalist and editor of ManchesterInkLink.com, a hyperlocal news and information site for Manchester, NH.