Over 260 loss prevention professionals, solution providers, and retail manufacturers gathered at the University of Florida (UF) in Gainesville October 3 – 5 for the annual Loss Prevention Research Council (LPRC) IMPACT conference—the largest event in the organization’s sixteen years.
This year’s conference featured presentations on current research results, retail-law enforcement joint ORC investigations, cyber crime, working group discussions, and multiple networking events.
A Monday evening reception was held at the LPRC’s innovation lab just off campus where over thirty technologies are installed in a simulated retail environment. Funded by Tyco Retail Solutions, the innovation lab functions as a demonstration facility where retail teams can see various asset protection technologies in action. The lab is open to LP organizations year around to hold team meetings and work with LPRC scientists on issues related to their specific company.
The full day of presentations began Tuesday morning with a welcome from David Richardson, dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, who told attendees that the UF’s largest college, which includes criminal justice, is emphasizing providing practical experience to students through internships and other partnerships with the private sector.
The keynote address was provided by Dr. Tara Shelley of Tarleton (TX) State University who presented results from her research into pharmacy robbery and burglary in which she interviewed 48 offenders convicted of stealing controlled substances for either personal use or drug diversion. She provided an interesting profile of pharmacy offenders who break into three groups—pure addicts (46 percent) who steal to get high, hybrids (44 percent) who are sometimes users who also sell on the street, and entrepreneurs (10 percent), who are more violent robbers and steal solely to make money.
A panel discussion on organized retail crime (ORC) investigations featured representatives from local, state, and federal law enforcement. Ben Dugan, Walgreens’ ORC investigations manager, moderated the discussion with Ronnie Faircloth of Broward County (FL) Sheriff’s Office, Carol Frederick of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and John Chiue, special agent with the FBI. Key takeaways from the panel included the movement of gangs toward focusing on identity theft because of the low risk/high reward. The investigators also talked about the impact of a lack of knowledge of ORC among judges and prosecutors.
Allen Atamer of LTAS Technologies offered attendees an interesting tutorial of “Exploring the Deep and Dark Web,” where illicit products are sold and bartered among criminals. He provided specific instructions for accessing the alternate Internet for retailers interested in seeing how their brand and merchandise is represented.
Due to the advance of Hurricane Matthew off the coast of Florida, many attendees had to leave early. About half of the original number of attendees present on Wednesday heard a panel of Rick Peck of TJX and Brent Onan of USS, plus Kevin Larson of Kroger and Stephanie Mitchell of Avery Dennison discuss how the retailers partner with solutions providers both inside and outside the LPRC framework to solve specific issues inside their company. Emy Johnson of Target moderated.
Apart from the educational sessions, attendees had multiple opportunities to meet with solution provider members of the LPRC as well as network with other attendees. The Tuesday night dinner was hosted atop the UF football stadium with drinks, barbecue, and games. For more information about the LPRC or the IMPACT conference, contact Dr. Read Hayes at rhayes (at) lpresearch (dot) org.