ORC in 2013

An exclusive Q&A with National Retail Federation VP of loss prevention Rich Mellor on how retailers are working to end the threat of Organized Retail Crime

The thieves use electronic devices just like anyone; for example, they use a GPS device to plot the route they will take from one store or mall to another. But the retailers are using those devices as well to predict where the next theft will take place, and they are sharing that knowledge with each other and the police to stay a step ahead. They will call and say ‘we’ve had a series of hits at our mall, and it is likely that (the thieves) will be at this neighboring mall within a half hour.”


Outside of cameras and access controls, is there a particular newer technology you see being deployed to combat retail theft?

Retailers are starting to see the benefits of RFID, and they are moving toward using them instead of traditional EAS tags. This technology helps not just in loss prevention, but also in other areas of the business, such as inventory control and supply chain tracking. RFID tags enable a retailer, for example, for example, to see and be alerted to an item that has been moved from one area of the selling floor to another. This is a technique used for ORC — someone comes in and targets the merchandise they want and move it closer to an exit to make the theft easier for a second person. From an ORC and loss prevention standpoint, you will be on alert and better prepared to catch someone shoplifting, since you know the items have been moved and the crime is likely about to take place soon.

This technology can help in curtailing employee theft as well.


Are flash mobs still a problem?

Flash mobs are unfortunate because they victimize these stores where it’s just one or two people working and it’s an overwhelming thing. Sometimes it’s not for theft, just intimidation. In that case, it’s almost like a prank-type of incident, but it’s not funny.

When it is a theft, it brings us back to the collaboration with law enforcement, as they don’t take to this kind of behavior kindly. Even if the merchandise stolen is not expensive and the quantity doesn’t amount to a lot of dollars, the police have responded very quickly and with a sense of commitment to these incidents.

Based on what I’m hearing and seeing, there has already been a serious reduction of these types of incidents, due to the effective police reaction. They are all about seeing if they can find and arrest these people and I see more arrests from them than ever before. It goes back to the quality of cameras — if the police can identify and find one of the people, it becomes easier to find the others.