Despite the rising tide among retailers to combat Organized Retail Crime (ORC), the problem still seems to be a growing one in America. Of the 125 retail companies surveyed for the National Retail Federation’s eighth annual Organized Retail Crime Survey, a record-setting (96.0%) reported their company has been the victim of organized retail crime in 2011 — up from 94.5 percent in 2010.
For a full overview on the ORC threat, please see our May 2012 cover story, available at www.securityinfowatch.com/10713236.
Security Technology Executive recently sat down with Rich Mellor, vice president of loss prevention for the NRF, to discuss the trends that are impacting retailers’ ORC prevention efforts. Mr. Mellor joined NRF in Nov. 2011 and tirelessly works to raise the visibility of retail loss prevention issues, including organized retail crime and return fraud. Prior to joining NRF, Mellor served as an executive with companies such as Helzberg Diamonds, Macy’s, Woodward & Lothrop and John Wanamaker.
Here’s the interview:
Q: ORC was officially named and identified by the FBI in 2005, yet according to NRF’s 2012 Organized Retail Crime Survey, 96% were a victim of ORC. Are American companies making any progress, or are the criminals staying a step ahead?
A: I would say American companies are making progress in this area, and although the criminals are attempting to be one step ahead, I think the loss prevention divisions of the retailers are making advances themselves and learning to actually be one step ahead of the criminals. Every month that goes by each side comes up with a new ideas and concepts — it goes back and forth.
Even though it is a growing problem affecting more retailers, those retailers that have been dealing with ORC for a number of years have recognized the problem and have put strategies in place to curtail these thefts. They are getting pretty good at tracking these criminals and bringing them to justice.
What kind of stance is law enforcement taking on ORC—have there been more convictions, and are they being couple with long sentences?
The broad statement would be the education and awareness factor among law enforcement organizations — and that includes local, state and federal agencies — is much better over the last few years. There are lots of conversations going on between the retailers, the law enforcement community and even into the prosecutors’ offices, where they meet collaborate and talk about strategies to devote manpower, resources, etc. to this. I think the awareness and the collaboration has really notched up over the last couple years.
Retailers are doing a much better job on tracking incidents and collaboration, which has been extraordinarily helpful to the law enforcement community to get credible information.
How are different retailers collaborating?
The retailers are collaborating now from one company to another — most of the retailers with a large number of stores have ORC teams within their company. Those ORC teams analyze the information they collect from video and other security systems to develop historic and predictive information using analytic software.
Although retailers are competitive by nature, when it comes to ORC, loss prevention folks are working together almost as if they are in the same company. They are so closely aligned on trying to catch these thieves and prosecuting them. When prosecutions do occur, it’s not going to be just one retailer standing in front of the judge — the larger the number of incidents and accumulated theft of merchandise that can be proven, the more likely that a severe sentence will be handed down in a successful prosecution.