Shoplifting & Organized Retail Crime

To shoplift is to knowingly obtain goods or merchandise from an establishment in which they are displayed for sale, without paying the purchase price. This act can include carrying, hiding, concealing, or otherwise manipulating merchandise with the intent to steal it.

Organized retail crime (ORC) deals with professional shoplifters, crime networks, cargo theft, Internet crimes, and other organized criminal activities that occur in the retail setting. These highly organized, often mobile, and sometimes complex structures and hierarchies provide a tremendous threat to the retail industry.

ORC involves the association of two or more persons engaged in illegally obtaining retail merchandise through both theft and fraud as part of an unlawful commercial enterprise. The primary objective of these professional crime rings is to target retailers across a geographical area or cyber network, stealing from these organizations for the purpose of turning products into financial gain, rather than for personal use.

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Shoplifting and organized retail crime issues are the most common contributors to external shrink, having developed into a multibillion-dollar problem that ultimately affects each and every one of us. Not only do these losses affect a company’s bottom line in a variety of different ways, but they also impact us as consumers in the form of higher prices, fewer choices, greater inconveniences, and a reduction in services as businesses attempt to find ways to fight external theft incidents and recover damages.

Shoplifters are not bound by age, gender, race, social background, or any other traits that make us unique and distinctive as human beings. This type of theft isn’t always based on need, and many different incentives may influence the motivation to steal. While every situation has its own merits, the motivations for shoplifting can be as different as the individual.

ORC groups are commonly involved in sophisticated, well-planned shoplifting incidents, check and credit card scams, manufacturing fraudulent receipts or price tickets, gift card scams, cargo theft incidents (where goods are stolen or hijacked during transit), and a host of other organized theft events. These criminal activities have become a nationwide problem occurring at an increasing scale, costing retail companies and consumers billions of dollars every year.

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Organized Retail Crime Associations: The Complete List

The number of organized retail crime associations (ORCAs) has grown steadily in recent years, with a primary emphasis on assisting law enforcement, retail investigators, and prosecutors with the identification, investigation, and prosecution of those involved in organized retail crime.

In response to the scope and severity of organized retail crime concerns   Read More


ORC Theft Trends and Impact

Loss prevention has traditionally focused on shortage reduction through an emphasis on internal theft, external shoplifting, and operational controls. Resources to prevent these losses have been spent on developing programs and controls to stop loss from within the company.

Within the past couple of decades, however, retailers have identified the growing   Read More


How Store Environments Affect Shoplifting Crime

Here’s how one shoplifter assesses risk. “First things first—you want to know if they got what you want. The second factor is the risk involvement. The risk involvement will be security times cameras times employees times space times [other] customers. Those are the five factors you’re going to have. Why?   Read More



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