Press Releases

Retail Survey Shows Crime Increases Tied to Economy

The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) today released the Current Crime Trends Survey, revealing evidence that crimes against retailers are trending upward in correlation with the down economy.

ARLINGTON, Va. — The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) today released the Current Crime Trends Survey, revealing evidence that crimes against retailers are trending upward in correlation with the down economy.

The survey examines the observations from 52 of the largest and fastest growing retailers in the US, ranging from grocery, drugstore, and mass merchant to specialty apparel, electronics and appliances, and fabric and craft retail. Focusing on the time period associated with the current economic downturn, the survey seeks to identify corresponding trends in unlawful activity.

The report concludes that crimes of opportunity as well as more sophisticated organized retail crime (ORC) are on the rise across all retail segments.

Key findings include:
84% report an increase in theft/amateur shoplifting
76% report an increase in financial fraud
80% report increases in organized retail crime
77% of specialty retailers report increases in ORC

“The current uptick in unlawful activity is an unfortunate, yet unsurprising consequence of an economy in distress,” said Paul Jones, vice president asset protection.

Retailers report alarming upward trends in regions not typically prone to such increases. Complex cities and highly urbanized states are often the first to display increases in unlawful activity. However, survey results show that increases have permeated beyond these regions and onto a number of non-traditional and rural areas.

Retailers report that they are working diligently to bring these rising trends to a standstill as they work to make improvements in their operations, resource allocation, and capital spending. Additionally, retailers continue to build strong partnerships with law enforcement and work with state and federal legislators to find solutions.

According to The Global Retail Theft Barometer, put out by the Centre for Retail Research, U.S. retailers spent $11.799 billion last year on loss prevention efforts.

Reported increases in organized retail crime (ORC) highlight a potential long-term issue. ORC involves sophisticated crime rings that steal and stockpile large quantities of merchandise that they then sell often to unwitting buyers. The stolen merchandise is sold through flea markets, swap meets, pawn shops and increasingly through internet auction sites.

Unlike simple shoplifting or other crimes of opportunity, ORC growth attributed to a slowed economy is less likely to decline as the economy improves. The criminal enterprises associated with ORC become reliant on the revenue derived from the commission of this crime and thus will likely continue to commit these crimes even as the economy improves. The increase in ORC is particularly troubling as these criminal enterprises often use the proceeds derived from ORC to fund additional crimes.

“Organized retail criminals are ramping up their activity. The resulting ability to fund additional crimes should be a concern to everyone,” added Jones.

Collaboration and continued partnership with law enforcement are identified as key tactics to combating these increases. Also noted are the continued efforts of the Coalition Against Organized Retail Crime to enact federal ORC legislation to combat this growing activity.

Jones concluded by stating, “Retailers understand full-well the challenges these difficult times present and are resolute in making careful adjustments in their operations, partnerships and processes to come to proactive solutions to combat these growing crime trends.”

To access a full report and resources, go to: Current Crime Trends Survey.pdf

The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) promotes consumer choice and economic freedom through public policy and industry operational excellence. Its members include retailers, product manufacturers, and service suppliers — which together provide millions of jobs and operate more than 100,000 stores, manufacturing facilities and distribution centers domestically and abroad.