On Thursday August 25, more than 200 professionals, from retail asset protection and security to law enforcement and prosecutors, came together in San Diego County for a free training symposium hosted by the San Diego Organized Retail Crime Alliance (SDORCA). Many of California’s top ORC investigators and prosecutors from Kern, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego Counties, the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office, California Highway Patrol, California Department of Justice, and Homeland Security Investigators were in attendance.
The morning began with breakfast sponsored by Rite Aid, followed by a beautiful Presentation of Colors and breathtaking singing of the National Anthem by officers with the California Highway Patrol. Following the honoring of our flag and country, San Diego County Deputy District Attorney Anna Winn was congratulated as the recipient of SDORCA’s inaugural Nelson Harrah Leaders in ORC Award in honor of Nelson Harrah. DDA Winn truly exemplifies the legacy that Nelson created. Her passion, commitment, and collaboration to combat ORC with both law enforcement and retailers enabled her to become the go-to advisor for many county and state agencies and prosecutors.
Escondido Police Interim Chief David Cramer provided a keynote address that welcomed attendees and acknowledged ORC as a problem where the reward for criminals is greater than the risk of being caught. Attendees were also thanked for their commitment to combating the ORC problem.
Training sessions began with a presentation by California Highway Patrol’s Cargo Theft Interdiction Program (CHP CTIP) Investigator Kyle Dodder. Investigator Dodder provided attendees with an update on cargo theft trends and tactics by cargo thieves. Concurrently in a breakout room, the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) Special Agent Darin White and United Parcel Service (UPS) Security Investigators Maria Becerra and Rick Talamante provided training to attendees on how they can assist in ORC investigations that involve shipments of stolen property coast-to-coast.
The second set of training sessions were presented by the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office and Garden Grove Police Department. San Diego County District Attorney Investigator Mat Grindley gave attendees an in-depth presentation on how to leverage technology for investigative purposes. Concurrent to Investigator Grindley’s session, Garden Grove Police Detective Jim Franks gave attendees a detailed overview of Romanian Theft Groups that commit ORC thefts in the United States, as well as how to recognize and investigate these groups.
Lunch? Yes, please. A buffet style fajita lunch was sponsored by Auror. Attendees had their choice of chicken or steak fajitas with all the fixings on the side. Special thanks to the Escondido Police Department’s volunteers and cadets for assisting with lunch logistics. During lunch, attendees were treated to a K9 demonstration provided courtesy of the California Highway Patrol’s K9 Unit.
After lunch, attendees rallied back in the main hall for a training session and update by San Diego County District Attorney’s Office DDA Anna Winn. DDA Winn provided attendees with a detailed look at the core criminal elements and evidence gathering tactics that make an ORC prosecution the most impactful.
The California Highway Patrol Organized Retail Crimes Task Force took the main stage next, highlighted by speakers Captain Jason Daughrity, Lieutenant Brandon Shipwash, and Sergeant Jim Kelley. The CHP ORCTF discussed the impact their ORC Task Force program has had in combatting ORC in California, and highlighted future strategies and visions for expansions of their teams throughout the state. Two additional teams will be created to cover the Sacramento area (Valley Division) and Bakersfield area (Central Division). The grand finale included the California Department of Justice and its upcoming ORC Task Force. CA DOJ Special Agent Supervisor Sok Kyong, CA DOJ Deputy Attorney General Kristina Gannon, and CA DOJ Deputy Attorney General Susan Schwartz outlined the elements needed to prosecute ORC cases at the state level and their urgent commitment to combatting ORC throughout the state with allied agencies and local prosecution.
The San Diego Organized Retail Crime Alliance was founded in 2009 and comprises over 1,200 active members. SDORCA maintains a consistent schedule of membership meetings throughout the year that are attended by partners from across the state of California. SDORCA members also take action by conducting plain clothes mall operations as a group to apprehend ORC offenders and work together to actively investigate ORC cases in the field. Being the only active ORC network in Southern California, SDORCA and its board members work hard to offer free meetings and events that bring retailers and law enforcement together to help the community.
This year’s training symposium was graciously sponsored by TJX, Lowe’s, Rite Aid, Estee Lauder, and Auror, and supported by Costco, Sam’s Club, Home Depot, Columbia Sportswear, Lululemon, Abercrombie & Fitch, Turner’s Outdoorsman, Vans, Worldwide Golf Shops, Vallarta Markets, Centurion Gear, and Cal Custom Gun Shop. Reveal Media and Prestige Window Solutions were the highlighted vendors.
Planning is underway for the next SDORCA Training Event, scheduled for Spring/Summer 2023. For more information or to become a member, visit www.SDORCA.org.