In early 2017, a small group of retail loss prevention professionals and local law enforcement officers assembled in the Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) market to discuss organized retail crime (ORC), its impact on their respective areas of responsibility, and how to work together more effectively to combat the growing problem.
Dealing with the ORC epidemic is certainly nothing new to this group, as Texas has earned a reputation for housing some of the more active and aggressive organized retail crime operations in the country.
But this particular meeting wasn’t just another networking opportunity. It wasn’t just about sharing information, trading war stories, sharing photos of active cases, or simply swinging by for a quick visit and free coffee.
While all those efforts may be important, this gathering was more focused on a shared vision—and on taking steps forward to fill a glaring need. It involved industry professionals coming together to create an actionable game plan to effect change.
Everyone in the room recognized that while ORC activity persisted year after year, Texas was lacking some of the fundamental tools necessary to be the aggressor in the war against it. Through this shared vision, Texas ORCA came to life.
Through experience, research, and the desire to put forth the most comprehensive investigative platform of its kind, the founding members of Texas ORCA spearheaded the creation of the Texas ORCA website. The website features an interactive and searchable database that houses intelligence relating to organized retail crime, robberies and financial fraud activity. What makes the Texas ORCA website unique from other ORCA sites is the users’ ability to tailor their experience to suit their specific needs.
The site not only allows users to share crime information by uploading photos and bulletins, but it also saves the data in a written and mapped format, searchable by crime and suspect type. This allows members to search the website and identify patterns and trends that can then be used in efforts to connect cases and solve crimes. The site is broken down into three major categories: ORC cases, financial fraud, or violent crimes associated with robberies (with or without a weapon). More importantly, and if warranted, the data can also be segregated to support a specific case load or investigation.
Detectives and law enforcement agencies have commented on the convenience of the site and its ability to conduct searches for a primary loss prevention contact who has the authority to make decisions regarding prosecution and recovery for a specific retail organization.
A Shared Mission and Vision
The vision of Texas ORCA is continuously evolving. The goal goes far beyond a data portal collecting information; the ultimate vision is to build relationships between retail and law enforcement.
The Texas ORCA group wants to build a site that will continually foresee what values are needed to support the organization’s purpose. The group aims to use the benefits of fast-changing technology, coupled with the intelligence collected in collaboration and partnership with law enforcement and retail, to support investigations and solve crimes. By working together and integrating systems, it may be possible to accomplish the common goal—to identify and halt criminal activity, which impacts everyone.
In 2018, the Texas ORCA board worked with the Collin County Sheriff’s Department and the North Texas Fusion Center to integrate intelligence from the Texas ORCA site in efforts to identify and apprehend organized criminal activity. This is just one of many steps taken to join alliances and achieve a mutual goal.
Join Texas ORCA’s Mission
The Texas ORCA currently supports more than 1,500 registered members from all segments of retail professional loss prevention, law enforcement, and prosecutors at the local, state and federal levels. Meetings are currently held quarterly throughout Texas, with future plans of an annual state conference starting in early 2020. The conference will provide networking opportunities, training and TCOLE credit for law enforcement officials.
Law enforcement, along with a handful of professional loss prevention members of the board, have sponsored this program with their passion, time and resources to make the program what it is today. Oversight from Chief Harvey and Sergeant Felty of the Allen Police Department has been a key ingredient in the success of Texas ORCA.
“The partnership between law enforcement and loss prevention is invaluable and increases the apprehension and successful prosecution of high-volume career criminals, many of whom have lengthy and often violent criminal histories,” said Chief Harvey.
The group looks forward to the years ahead and the partnerships that will established to fight organized retail crime in Texas.
For more information, visit https://texasorca.org.