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Target Closing 9 Stores Citing Retail Theft and Violence

Target announced that it is closing nine stores across four states, effective Oct. 21. The company said it cannot continue operating these stores because theft and ORC are threatening the safety of its employees and guests.

“We know that our stores serve an important role in their communities, but we can only be successful if the working and shopping environment is safe for all,” a statement from the company read. “Before making this decision, we invested heavily in strategies to prevent and stop theft and organized retail crime in our stores, such as adding more security team members, using third-party guard services, and implementing theft-deterrent tools across our business. Despite our efforts, unfortunately, we continue to face fundamental challenges to operating these stores safely and successfully.”

Closing are one store in New York City, two in Seattle, three in San Francisco and Oakland, and three in Portland.

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“The team members at these stores have worked hard to maintain our high standards by creating a positive working and shopping experience for each other, our guests, and their communities,” Target’s statement continued. “We are extremely thankful for their efforts and will be partnering closely with all eligible team members to offer them an opportunity to transfer to other Target locations.”

Target listed a number of efforts it is making to continue combatting theft and ORC in remaining stores, including:

  • Payroll investments in additional security team members, using third-party guard services, and implementing theft-deterrent tools across the business.
  • On a limited basis, implementing tools such as locking cases for merchandise categories that are prone to theft.
  • Investing time and resources in training store leaders and security team members so they can protect themselves and de-escalate potential safety issues associated with organized retail crime incidents.

Investments in technology include:

  • Making significant investments in cyber defense to combat retail theft, fraud, and abuse.
  • Partnering with the US Department of Homeland Security’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) division to combat retail theft.
  • Applying cyber capabilities to combat organized retail crime through a combination of:
    • Advanced threat intelligence capabilities to track organized crime groups, tools, and services.
    • Developing custom tools that prevent and detect criminal activity and integrating them into online and in-store processes.
    • Expanding the scope of data alerts and analysis to better capture fraudulent activity from organized crime groups.

In addition, the company says it is taking a community, government, and industry approach to seek solutions, including:

  • The Outreach Coordinator team connects guests experiencing hardship to community resources. Since launching in 2021, the Outreach Coordinator Program has engaged in over 5,700 meaningful guest interactions across 11 markets, delivered nearly 100 trainings, and hosted or partnered on more than 135 events.
  • Supporting the recent passage of the INFORM Consumers Act, which gives marketplaces a larger role in combatting the second-hand sale of stolen goods.
  • Advocating for the Combating Organized Retail Crime Act in Congress, which creates a taskforce of federal agencies to crack down on theft and organized retail crime.
  • Creating Organized Retail Crime Task Forces at the state and local level to promote inter-agency efforts and cooperation.
  • Hosting store walks with Members of Congress, state legislators, city officials, district attorneys, law enforcement, and local community partners to educate on efforts to combat retail theft and organized retail crime, and advocate for solutions and cooperation.
  • Participating in National Store Walk Month, a new initiative in partnership with the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) and the National District Attorneys Association (NDAA) that seeks to address the urgent issues of organized retail crime and theft and its impact on our communities.
  • Partnering with national and local retail industry associations such as RILA and the National Retail Federation to fund advocacy and educational efforts like the Vibrant Communities initiative.

“Looking ahead, we remain committed to serving these guests with more than 150 locations open in markets where the closures are taking place and an always-open experience at,” the company concluded.

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RILA released the following statement in response to the news:

“Organized retail crime, habitual theft, and violence are significant challenges for retailers of all sizes, compounded by complex societal issues like mental health, addiction, and homelessness. Target’s announcement lays bare the substantial problems that exist in communities across the US, and the tough decisions that many retailers currently face.

“With that understanding, RILA launched a partnership with the National District Attorneys Association (NDAA) to help drive collaboration, education, and resources to help combat the problems of organized retail crime and habitual theft.  As part of that partnership, RILA recently launched the Vibrant Communities Initiative, a whole-of-community, holistic approach to addressing retail crime. Our goal is to better understand the underlying, systematic drivers of habitual theft and recidivism so that retailers can help communities craft an effective long-term response. By collaborating with a wide range of stakeholders, including police, prosecutors, social service organizations, and technology solution providers, our aim is multifaceted: Pilot new technologies and collaborative tools across the retail and law enforcement ecosystem; arrest and prosecute career offenders and those who are violent in stores; develop practices for identifying individuals qualified for diversion, and steering them to appropriate social services as an alternative to incarceration.

“We know there is no one-size-fits-all solution, nor will there be an overnight resolution to the challenges facing retailers, law enforcement, and local community leaders. But our objective is to identify effective approaches that can be shared and applied across the country to enact long-term, systemic change in how communities can tackle this challenge.”

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