Organized Retail Crime Monthly News Recap: October 2023

Organized retail crime remains a serious problem for retailers across the country and around the world. Every day there are countless stories about criminal enterprises victimizing our stores, threatening the safety of our customers and employees and, in many cases, the very fabric of the retail industry. To give you a better feel for the vast impact of the problems, we have provided a glimpse into just a few of the incidents that took place in the month of October. Keep in mind that the list of incidents had to be drastically reduced here simply due to the sheer number of serious criminal incidents that took place this month.

Multiple arrests made in $20 million organized retail theft ring that targeted stores across South Florida
An extensive crime ring that systematically targeted major retailers believed they could operate without leaving a significant impact. However, their actions resulted in over $20 million in retail losses. According to authorities, the criminal operation, which spanned throughout South Florida, consisted of approximately 87 individuals who carried out a series of thefts from big-box retailers over nine months. Their approach was simple: enter the stores and take as much merchandise as possible.

Police find Chicago warehouse with millions of dollars in stolen shoes
Millions of dollars-worth of high-end shoes were found at a West Side warehouse in the Chicago market that was home to a theft ring that targeted freight trains. The warehouse is the site of an investigation where law enforcement officials said a group of thieves used it as a home base to push stolen merchandise received through a series of railroad cargo thefts across the country. As part of a diversion/repacking operation, the shoes would allegedly be re-labeled and shipped to the warehouse where the merchandise would be unpackaged, repackaged, and then resold to consumers, including unsuspecting retailers. According to authorities, more than $5 million in shoes were seized.

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Fast-food employees allegedly stole money to bail out inmates
Police in Indiana are investigating a scheme where multiple restaurant employees allegedly used stolen money to bail out inmates from jail. According to the sheriff’s office, jail staff noticed that suspiciously large amounts of funds were being placed into the accounts of inmates at the county jail from a source outside the jail. The inmates were reportedly bonding out of the jail almost immediately and leaving with the remaining balance on a jail-issued debit card. This led to an investigation, where officials discovered a fraud scheme involving multiple employees from a Hardee’s restaurant taking photos of customers’ debit and credit cards that paid in the drive-thru and were fraudulently using those cards to place money into inmate’s accounts. $14,700 was charged fraudulently.

Las Vegas police tackling organized retail crime
Las Vegas police are investigating an organized retail theft ring that’s stealing a very specific item. Diabetic test strips are disappearing from shelves in Las Vegas and in neighboring states. The thefts are happening at drug stores, grocery stores, and even big box chains. “These crews will go to multiple states, hit multiple stores, and bring stolen product to different places to be resold,” says Metro Lt. Travis Cunningham. “One of those places they were bringing product is here in the Las Vegas valley. It’s hard to estimate a total, but this recent case had a value of about $280,000 in diabetic blood sugar test strips.”

$1 million in stolen retail items recovered from Stockton home
A multi-agency investigation resulted in the recovery of around $1 million in stolen retail items from several stores in Stockton, according to the California Highway Patrol. On Thursday, CHP served a search where investigators believed a residence was being used in connection with the buying and selling of stolen merchandise. While searching the residence, officers found stolen items from TJ Maxx, Ross, Marshall’s, Dicks Sporting Goods, Kohls and Macy’s. The collective value of the items is estimated to be around $1 million.

89 arrests made so far by LASD’s new retail crime task force
Organized retail theft is hitting businesses hard, and Los Angeles County officials recently held a press conference to provide an update on the progress being made in the ongoing campaign against thieves. In the first five weeks of the task force, teams have made 89 arrests for retail-related thefts, recovered six firearms, executed 52 search warrants, and recovered $370,000 worth of stolen merchandise.

Driver caught with one of 162 guns stolen from gun shop
Memphis police say they found one of 162 guns stolen from a Southaven gun store during a traffic stop. The Glock handgun, along with 161 other guns, was reported stolen from a gun dealer in May, where five people were caught on camera breaking into the store, smashing gun cases, and leaving with handfuls of weapons. Officers said they also found baggies of marijuana, plastic baggies of meth, and two fentanyl pills in the vehicle the suspect was driving.

Home Depot CEO Cries Out about the Growing Trend of Retail Theft and its Harm to Retail
Retail theft has grown beyond the random and low-scale incidents we were used to. Now, the perpetrators are more defiant and the operations more harmful. Over the past year, Home Depot has lost two of its staff – Blake Mohrs, 26, and Gary Rasor, 83 in two such incidents. Home Depot CEO, Ted Decker, has described the new wave of theft as a “big problem for retail.” Home Depot’s Vice President in charge of assets protection, Scott Glenn, has revealed that the retail theft business is growing by double digits every year. “More and more we’re seeing the risk being brought into the stores, and people being hurt or people even being killed in many cases because these folks, they just don’t care about the consequence.”

Chicago clothing stores hit in crash-and-grab burglaries
Business owners in Chicago are stepping up security and bracing for the next crash-and-grab. Vehicles are being used to ram into businesses, so burglars can get inside. The latest happened Saturday morning at Urban Jungle, a vintage sneaker shop in Wicker Park. The crew of thieves took vintage clothes and more. And they left behind a giant hole and a stolen Jeep, which they used to ram their way inside. It’s the sixth time something similar has happened in the past five days. On Tuesday it was Endless Supply Sneaker Boutique and The Little Black Dress in River North. On Wednesday it was Flee Club in Tri-Taylor. And Thursday it was Boneyard Chicago in West Town and Unique Chicago Sneaker Boutique in the South Loop. In the latest incident the owner said he lost $75,000 to $90,000 in clothes, and there is about $30,000 in damage to the shop.

UK: Heads of 86 major retailers find common ground in demanding action on ORC crisis
Britain’s top store bosses are today demanding urgent action to curb the tsunami of shoplifting, looting and aggression bringing chaos to the UK’s high streets. The heads of 86 major retailers have come together in an unprecedented act of co-operation and signed up to a letter telling the government it must move fast to tackle ‘unacceptable levels’ of violence and abuse against shop workers. A crime survey by the BRC this year showed that incidents of violence and abuse towards retail staff had almost doubled from pre-pandemic levels, to 867 incidents every day.

Thieves use bear spray in Nashville robberies
For the third time in as many weeks, a gang of organized retail thieves have stormed into Nashville stores at an upscale shopping center. Thieves rushed into Nordstrom on Thursday, Oct. 5, grabbing approximately $60,000 in purses. Before making their get-a-way, sources said the suspects sprayed a security guard with bear spray. Those noxious fumes affected multiple people, prompting EMS units to come to the mall. On Sept. 29, thieves stole belts and duffel bags from the Gucci store—while leaving the suspects used pepper spray or bear spray and sprayed the showroom with choking gas. Two weeks earlier, on Sept. 14, thieves stole $40,000 in merchandise from a Louis Vitton Store. Glen Alred, president of Alert Mid South, said bear spray is seen in a growing number of thefts.

$17,000 in counterfeit cash captured on cam by police
Police seized $17,000 in counterfeit $100 bills after they stopped a driver who was driving through Boulder with invalid temporary tags on their car. Police said the driver gave officers a fake name, but officers found that he had a felony warrant to appear in court for a car theft. After searching the Audi, police found brass knuckles, a realistic BB gun and $17,000 in counterfeit $100 bills. He was charged with criminal impersonation and possession of an illegal weapon before being taken into custody and to jail.

Man shot at officer after ORC incident at Kohl’s; 3 arrested
A Norfolk man shot at police after leaving a Kohl’s in Virginia Beach with stolen merchandise. Police received a call from Kohl’s loss prevention about a shoplifting incident reporting that the suspect had previously shoplifted from the store and was back, attempting to steal more items. An officer quickly responded to the scene and began following the suspect in his police car when the suspect fired a gun at the officer, police said. At least one round hit the police car, but the officer was not hit and did not return fire, police said. The officer was eventually able to take the suspect into custody in a nearby parking lot with the help of other responding officers. Police stated the stolen items had a value of almost $2,000.

Man busted with $20,000 in tools stolen from Home Depot Stores
A 34-year-old man was arrested last week on charges of grand theft after deputies discovered thousands of dollars in merchandise stolen from Home Depot stores, authorities announced. San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department responded to a Home Depot store on reports of retail theft between Oct. 13 and 15 resulting in the loss of approximately $1,400 in property. A little more than a week later, deputies served a search warrant at a residence in Perris where authorities recovered some $20,000 in merchandise stolen from Home Depots in Apple Valley and Victorville, as well as from stores that had yet to be identified. A photo released to the public showed dozens of power tools and tool boxes stolen from the retail locations in what appears to be the home’s garage.

Man arrested for organized retail crimes netting more than $100k in LA, Riverside counties
Authorities on Thursday announced the arrest of a man who allegedly committed a string of organized retail crimes in Los Angeles and Riverside counties, netting more than $100,000 in stolen merchandise. The suspect was arrested after investigators served a warrant at his residence, according to Los Angeles Police Department. He was booked on suspicion of robbery and his bail has been set at $1.3 million.


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