Organized retail crime (ORC) has moved from the margins to the material—still the most-cited challenge by those tasked with asset protection.

Ned McCauley
Ned McCauley

Many retailers have managed to outsell shrink in the last few years, but that’s getting harder to do. “Every single retailer this fiscal year is reporting an increase in shrink, some a 40 to 50 percent increase in year-over-year losses, so it’s becoming a theme in earning calls because profits are down,” said Sensormatic Solutions Ned McCauley. And that, he said, has transitioned ORC from an asset protection problem to a board-level issue.

It’s hard to exaggerate how consequential this new theft environment has become. ORC now costs US retailers more than $720,000 per $1 billion in sales on average, according to the latest data from the National Retail Federation (NRF). Professionalization of theft has catapulted the average shoplifting incident from $318 in 2014 to $462 in 2020. Fueled by addiction, emboldened by lenient sentences, and enticed by multiple re-sale opportunities, professional shoplifters are hitting retailers at an alarming clip.

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