It appears a wave of political change in this country is helping to drive a rise in shoplifting, according the the National Retail Federation’s annual survey of organized retail crime (ORC).
The survey found that 75% of loss prevention executives at a cross-section of large and mid-sized retail companies said ORC activity increased in the past year, up from 68% last year. Losses averaged $719,548 per $1 billion in sales, a 2% increase from last year and the fifth year in a row that the figure topped the $700,000 mark.
Current losses compare with only $453,940 in 2015. The increase of nearly 60% follows many states raising the threshold of what constitutes a felony, allowing criminals to steal more before being subject to stronger penalties than a misdemeanor.
In some jurisdictions like Los Angeles elected officials have directed enforcement away from what are seen as petty crimes perpetrated by poor people.
Among retailers NRF surveyed, 64% have seen an increase in average ORC case values where these vulnerablilities surfaced, up sharply from 51% who said the same each of the past two years.
However, cargo theft was reported by only 58% of respondents, down significantly from 73% last year. This occurred most often enroute from distribution centers to stores (45%), at DCs (40%), at stores (38%) and enroute between stores (35%).
Close to two thirds (61%) of retailers said their companies are prioritizing ORC more than they were five years ago, with 52% allocating more technology to reducing risks such as ORC-related thefts, and 36% increasing loss prevention budgets.
NRF says retailers are looking for more support from law enforcement, with only 64% saying they were satisfied with help received from local police (down from 84% last year).
Retailers cited relaxed law enforcement guidelines, changes in shoplifting laws and decreased penalties among the causes for increased ORC.