The New England Organized Retail Crime Alliance (NEORCA) recently held its annual organized retail crime (ORC) workshop at the Providence, Rhode Island Police Department. This event connects law enforcement to the private sector to provide education and outreach on topics pertaining to ORC. The audience was composed of over 130 people from the law enforcement, intelligence, legal, and retail communities nationwide.
NEORCA collaborated with the New England State Police Information Network (NESPIN); Providence, Rhode Island Police Department; Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); the Coalition of Law Enforcement and Retailers (CLEAR); CVS Health; Retail Business Services; and Gatekeeper Systems to continue to build success through professional partnerships. Ben Dugan, director of organized retail crime and corporate investigations at CVS Health and president of CLEAR, was the keynote speaker.
The workshop kicked off with opening remarks by Colonel Hugh Clements Jr., chief of Providence Police Department, during which he told the audience of organized crime families from Rhode Island running ORC rings in earlier years. Ken Spurling, president of NEORCA, then discussed the unity of retailers and law enforcement nationwide through innovative technology which tracks and shares information pertaining to organized theft groups (OTG). This was followed by members of the NESPIN staff introducing an ORC support suppression cycle for law enforcement. Sponsor Gatekeeper Systems then demonstrated how their technology prevents shopping cart push-outs.
Dugan spoke of the national threat of organized retail crime and the importance of forming alliances to dismantle these multi-jurisdictional ORC groups. The use of anonymous online marketplaces provides an easy way to sell the stolen goods. The growth of these marketplaces coincides with a recent spike in ORC activity. During 2019, ORC resulted in $125.7 billion in lost economic activity and 658,375 fewer jobs. It is estimated that ORC also cost $15 billion in personal and business tax revenues, not including the lost sales taxes.
Ryan Kearney, general counsel for the Retail Association of Massachusetts (RAM), provided a legal overview for organized retail crime within the six New England states. After a great day of education, networking, raffles, and light refreshments, Homeland Security Investigations Assistant Special Agent in Charge Sean Garvey and NESPIN Executive Director Curtis McKenzie provided closing remarks on working together to achieve the common goal of dismantling the ORC groups.