Looking back on the past twenty-four months, we have faced a perfect storm of events that have largely redefined our communities, the business of retail, and the face of loss prevention. Change has brought new challenges and responsibilities, but also different perspectives on old problems.
Cargo theft spiked during the pandemic, with greater focus on “pilferage” thefts targeting specific goods rather than full truckloads, emphasizing faster turnover of stolen goods and lowering risks. Counterfeit goods pose threats from lost sales to brand protection as markets are flooded with false and inferior products. And organized retail crime (ORC) is climbing to new heights, with brazen thefts and massive cases accumulating like never before. Management of illicit goods has grown more sophisticated, aided by the World Wide Web and harbored through internet marketplaces that have the capability of bringing these products directly to customers.
ORC has become a national conversation among retailers, law enforcement, and legislators. Multimillion-dollar cases have become commonplace, peeling back the onion of sophisticated criminal operations that thrive on poorly written laws, overworked retail investigators and law enforcement agents, and public ignorance to the depth of the problem. But positive steps are being taken to address these concerns and move us in the right direction.
When we look at those who are the best at what we do, we can point to many things that they do well. The qualities of leadership, the attributes and skills that set them apart, the knowledge and experience that support strong decision-making, and the adaptability that comes with an open mind immediately come to the forefront. Other characteristics also stand out. But it’s what we do best that will have the greatest impact on our results moving forward. And what we do best is work together.
Partnerships, teamwork, communication, networking, collaboration—these are all real words with real meaning in the profession, and words all of us can get behind. It doesn’t mean we have to agree on everything—and we won’t. But what we must have is a common objective. We need to share ideas, find common ground, and then spread that message to others. Solutions come when we work together. Sometimes putting all the pieces together may feel like a 1,000-word puzzle, but when it’s finished, we know we’ve accomplished something special.
Right now, there’s a basic one-two punch that will help put some of these problems on the ropes, and what it takes to make this happen falls right into what we do best.
The INFORM Act is important legislation that will require online marketplaces to collect and verify basic seller information, and for sellers to provide that information to consumers. Basic transparency and verification requirements will not hurt legitimate businesses but will make it harder for bad actors to deceive consumers selling stolen and counterfeit goods. It will also provide retail investigators and law enforcement with an important tool to track and prevent these illicit sales. Safety and accountability are concepts we should all be willing to get behind. Joining the Buy Safe America Coalition is a step in the right direction.
Organized retail crime associations (ORCAs) are intended to assist law enforcement, retail investigators, and prosecutors with the identification, investigation, and prosecution of those involved in organized retail crime. By working together and sharing information, these associations have opened doors to improve legislation, enhance investigations, and build cooperative partnerships in the battle against the ORC pandemic. These organizations need our support. Collaboration should be available to support every community. Even if joining simply means expanding your network in the fight against ORC, we all need to come together to make sure the ORCAs are successful.
If experience has taught us anything, it’s that we are at our best when we work together. Regularly we can read of the successes built on these and similar initiatives in our daily newsletter and the pages of the magazine. But it takes teamwork to make it happen. Pick up the phone. Make a call. Join a group. Stay informed. Network. Build on what we do best and be a part of the solution.