Organized Retail Crime

How to fight the new breed of shoplifter

Using technology, retailers can make it harder for criminals to deploy these types of tactics once inside the store. To prevent push-outs, retailers can install fire exit doors with access control mechanisms that delay the door opening after the crash bar is pressed. The deterrence value is enormous, as 10 seconds is a long wait for a criminal trying to push out a cart of merchandise unnoticed by customers, store employees or video cameras.

In areas such as cosmetics, electronics, baby formula and other high-demand merchandise aisles, public view monitors (PVMs) offer precision video capture of the faces of criminals. They also let perpetrators know they are being watched and recorded, serving as a deterrent and reminding them that they will likely be investigated. Smaller PVMs can even be placed directly at the targeted product at eye-level in high-risk aisles to serve as an extra deterrent.

Retailers can also step up use of HD video surveillance technology to capture identification shots. This information is not only valuable for prosecution at the store level, but can be helpful to the entire retail industry when sharing mug shots of individuals who may be perpetrating their crimes across an entire region.

Finally, other technologies that can help to prevent theft include the special packaging, overt or covert stamps on products that make it impossible to resell and EAS tags and labels.


Use Auditing Processes to Eliminate Inefficiency

The grime wave cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses before retailers even realized what was happening. It can be challenging to “see the forest for the trees” when trying to put together disparate pieces of information that may not become clear unless and until information is shared and viewed in context. Much of the ability to do this comes down to process and consistent execution. LP managers are continuously working to design and implement processes to prevent losses and eradicate inefficiencies. The challenge is having those processes implemented consistently in the field, while also factoring in the dynamics of different store locations.

For this reason, auditing processes across multiple locations is critical. Auditing questions that might have helped identify the grime wave more quickly (and should be implemented in stores now) include:

  • Does the store manager conduct regular walkthroughs to identify things that don’t seem quite right?
  • Is there a system for reporting or further investigating abnormalities? Are back end systems notified?
  • Are employees trained to respond or report if they see suspicious activities?
  • Are customers being greeted as they enter and move around the store to ensure they know they are noticed?
  • Are surveillance systems tested regularly to ensure they are operational, and capturing the right types of images?

An effective auditing process can help retailers understand their most significant risks and dive into problem areas quickly. This enables them to begin building processes that include an action plan for resolving problematic events or risks. It is hypercritical to see resolution and follow-up happen quickly, as soon as trends start to develop.

Using a combination of people, technology and processes, retail security professionals can be better prepared to capture the day-to-day information that exposes ORC trends early and enables them to take corrective steps in real-time. While we cannot predict exactly what will happen in the future, hopefully the retail LP industry will take away some key lessons from these events to learn from our past and combat ORC more effectively.


Andrew Wren serves as chief executive officer of Wren Solutions, a loss-prevention technology provider. To learn more about Wren’s solutions, visit