Organized retail crime and the dramatic growth of ORC incidents have drawn significant attention both within the loss prevention industry and throughout the retail community in general as businesses search for ways to manage the threats and address the issues. Whether dealing directly with professional shoplifters or otherwise battling the related fencing operations, cargo theft incidents, Internet crimes, or other associated offenses, tremendous effort and resources are being waged against those associated with these sophisticated criminal networks.
Yet despite focused efforts by loss prevention and law enforcement professionals throughout the community, the public perception of organized retail crime is typically not viewed in the light that we might expect. Often simply perceived as a minor distraction in the larger scheme of things, theft and theft-related crimes—to include organized retail crime incidents—are not always seen as a primary concern in the eyes of those outside of retail. In the eyes of many, this is nothing more than a petty sidebar that pulls us away from other “real” or “more important” issues.
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There’s often little or no separation between “minor” offenses and criminal networks. In fact, such perceptions can often spark sympathy for the perpetrators while ignoring larger concerns and the true impact of these crimes.
So how do we change this perception? What can we do to increase public awareness and influence a different way of thinking? Perhaps the starting point is to identify where the breakdown is taking place.
What do you think? What do you feel is the public’s greatest misunderstanding regarding organized retail crime?
Not a single respondent believes that the role that organized retail crime plays in the demise of our communities is overstated.
Approximately 54 percent of respondents believe that the role that organized retail crime plays as a gateway crime to serious issues such as drugs and violent crimes is the public’s greatest misunderstanding.
Thirty-three percent believe that the sophistication of ORC networks and how they can impact our communities is the greatest misunderstanding, while 13 percent believe it is the financial impact that ORC issues can have on retail and the global economy
Here’s a sampling of your comments:
“In general, I don’t feel that the general public has any clue just how serious this problem can be within our communities.”
“Even after proving to local authorities that a major ORC ring in our area was financing drug activity – they still perceive it all as just simple ‘shoplifting’. Their perception is kids concealing candy in their pockets -not groups pushing shopping carts full of power tools out.”
“With the growing concerns regarding heroin and other drug abuse issues, you would think that getting to the bottom of how abusers support their habits would draw more attention.”
“I don’t think the general public has the slightest idea just how big of a problem this can be, or how it impacts retailers – and ultimately the cost of goods.”
Do you have any additional thoughts? Let us know what’s on your mind in the comments below.