According to an article published this week by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, organized retail crime, which includes merchandise theft, as well as credit card fraud, gift card fraud, and price tag switching, costs the U.S. about $30 billion a year.
The agency says that the stores targeted by perpetrators of organized retail crime range from small specialty shops to major department stores. Among the groups responsible for these crimes, according to the FBI, includes South American theft groups, Mexican criminal groups, as well as Cuban criminal groups from South Florida and Asian street gangs from California.
Special Agent Eric Ives of the FBI’s Violent Crimes/Major Offenders Unit in Washington, D.C., says the agency “specifically focuses on the most significant retail theft cases involving the interstate transportation of stolen property.” Ives called organized retail crime a “gateway crime” that is often used to fund other criminal endeavors.
The FBI says that it is working with the retail industry to help address the problem and recently helped to develop the Law Enforcement Retail Partnership Network (LERPnet), which is a database that can be used by retailers to report and share incidents of retail theft and other retail crimes.
Click here to learn more about what the FBI is doing to combat organized retail crime.