Report: Retail industry continues to battle ORC :

WASHINGTON--Although increased media attention and legislative action has been directed at organized retail crime, new research shows additional action is needed to reduce the dollar amounts retailers lose to ORC gangs -- an amount the FBI estimates at $30 billion per year.

According to the third annual Organized Retail Crime survey, which the National Retail Federation released last week, 79 percent of retailers said their company has been a victim of organized retail crime during the past 12 months. In addition, 71 percent reported a noticeable increase in ORC activity during the same time period -- a startling increase from 48 percent in 2006.

But Joseph LaRocca, vice president of loss prevention for NRF and a former LP executive at The Disney Store, said the increase isn't that much of a surprise considering the exposure ORC has recently experienced due to multiple initiatives.

Early last year, President Bush signed legislation that established an FBI Organized Retail Theft Task Force and allocated $5 million per year to fund law enforcement training to combat the issue. Also, multiple states such as Nevada, Texas, New Jersey and Florida have passed statewide laws because retailers are not the only ones that lose money -- states lose tax dollars on stolen merchandise as well.

"We are more aware of ORC activity today," he said. 'The big surprise, in a good way, is that top executives are more aware of the issue today then they have been in the past. Having them understand what the issues are will help in a whole host of areas."

The C-suite awareness will help fund projects directed towards mitigating ORC, such as employee training and installing technology of intelligent video systems and GPS tracking devices.

Large chain stores are also ramping up the development of internal loss prevention teams that focus specifically on ORC -- companies such as Safeway, Wal-Mart and The Limited Brands are examples. But LaRocca noted that this is "still in its infancy."

Retailers have also joined forces with the FBI and local law enforcement by developing a nationwide database that can hold information regarding incidents of theft and fraud, which can assist officials in determining a pattern of an ORC gang. (Search "LERPnet" at www.securitydirectornews.com)

LaRocca said this mix of federal and local government initiatives coupled with a strong industry focus is an ideal way to combat the issue.

"State and local law enforcement groups really become the rubber on the road," he said. "Most cases are going to start locally and develop into federal cases."

For more on this story, see the July issue of Security Director News or click here to go to their website.

- The Hackett Security Team

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