Organized Retail Theft: Criminals Not Afraid

Organized retail crime (ORC) refers to professional shoplifting, cargo theft, retail crime rings and other organized crime occurring in retail environments. One person acting alone is not considered an example of organized retail crime. These criminals move from store to store and even city to city.

You have probably seen videos on social media or news outlets showing groups rushing into a store and swiping merchandise off the shelfs – most get away and are never arrested.

A survey conducted by the National Retail Federation found that when a felony threshold increases, so do losses to organized retail crime.

In states where the felony threshold has increased, over half report an increase in (organized retail theft) case value. None reported a decrease. It appears that criminals understand and have increased their thefts to meet it.”

CA Prop 47 – Safe Neighborhoods Law

Prop 47 was passed in California in 2014. The purpose was to keep non-violent criminals out of crowded jails – it also doubled the amount a person could steal before facing a felony. The amount went from $450 to $950.

Lieutenant Mark Donaldson with the Vacaville, CA police department said, “It’s a boldness like we’re seeing never before and just a disregard for fellow human beings.”

Police say suspects will target stores with easy access to get-away cars and access to freeways and highways. Law enforcement policies will not risk the dangers of a high-speed chase for a misdemeanor offense.

Law enforcement and the retail industry in California blame the law that was intended to make neighborhoods safe. The California Police Chiefs also believe organized retail theft has increased because the penalties have gone down.

Lieutenant Mark Donaldson: “The consequences are so small in nature that it makes the risk worth it.”

Happening Across the Country

A brazen shoplifter in a Jacksonville, FL Home Depot pulls out a gun on an employee who tried to stop him from walking out of the store with a cart filled with merchandise. Another video surveillance shows three men shove another employee who steps in their way as they walk out the door with unpaid merchandise.

An Albany, GA man accused of first-degree robbery and first-degree theft from a Home Depot was also part of an organized retail theft ring. This was after he had been deported for his criminal history in the U.S. and has open cases in other jurisdictions. He is now in jail with a no-bail hold.

According to the National Association of Shoplifting Prevention $50 billion a year is stolen in retail crime, many of which is committed by organized retail crime rings. Such crime rings employ different individuals who are looking for quick money or those who are seasoned thief’s.

Retailers are fighting back with numerous ploys. Specially designed wire wraps, putting items behind glass, giving customers tickets to checkout lanes for more expensive items and employing off-duty police. Sometimes simply asking someone if they need help will signal, they are being watched.

Fear No Punishment

When criminals fear no punishment for their crimes, there are no consequences to refrain from future criminal activity. Communities won’t be safe as long as the criminal justice system enables bad behavior. Increased crime drives businesses out of communities and decreases taxes paid to state and county governments.

When there is no sufficient surety to deter breaking the law, then laws will be broken. Put accountability back in the criminal justice system – law abiding citizens care about protecting the communities we live in and advocating for the rights of victims.