Organized Retail Crime is Growing in Scope and Complexity

Organized retail crime is growing in scope and complexity, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF). It is also becoming more violent.

The NRF’s latest report, published last week, detailed how organized retail crime is a “perpetual and burgeoning problem” that has inflicted billions in financial losses for U.S. retailers and their communities.

For years, the NRF has been issuing reports that quantify what people are stealing and how retailers are responding in terms of their loss prevention activities. For the first time, the trade group also provided a detailed assessment about whom these organizations are, their tactics, motives and links to other types of criminal activities, Christian Beckner, NRF vice president of retail technology and cybersecurity, told FOX Business.

In doing so, the NRF hopes to help retailers and law enforcement “stay ahead of the organized retail crime threat and anticipate changes to organized retail crime group tactics, instead of just responding after incidents occur,” Beckner said.

According to the Homeland Security Investigations and the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists, organized theft groups launder an estimated $69 billion in illicit profits through the U.S. financial system and trade-based money laundering schemes each year.

According to the NRF report, which conducted its latest assessment in partnership with global risk advisory firm K2 Integrity, these organized retail crime groups “primarily favor large national retailers and big-box retailers, and cargo shipments for booster operations.” They are also more likely to target everyday consumer goods rather than luxury products. Based on an analysis of 116 groups, 81% exclusively stole general consumer goods.

These groups have also been planning out their booster operations in advance by studying store layouts, camera and exit locations, understanding the types of anti-theft precautions and knowing the different store policies for stopping suspected thieves, the report said. Boosters are known as the individuals who are paid to commit theft on behalf of these groups.