On April 12, ORC investigators and law enforcement officials gathered at the Kohl’s Innovation center in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin to hear the latest on ORC legislation and case profiles at the Wisconsin Organized Retail Crime Association (WIORCA) Conference. The meeting was the second annual event of this type for those in the Wisconsin area and surrounding states.
The meeting kicked off with a welcome from Telly Knetter, Walgreens major crimes investigation manager and WIORCA president, and a recap of the various group activities from 2022. They had a busy year with seven virtual meetings where ORC cases were studied and two in-person training events covering open-source investigations and the Auror system. Knetter put out a call for more volunteers to keep the engine of WIORCA running and discussed the need for an ORC task force to work with the Wisconsin attorney general’s office. He also shared the date for the WIORCA golf outing fundraiser: July 14, at Kettle Hills Golf Course. To register go to eventbrite/e/wiorca-fundraising-golf
The first speaker for the day was Chief Jeff Norman from Milwaukee PD who touched on his role, philosophy, and department directives around ORC. When speaking about ORC, Chief Norman stated that there are “no boundaries for crime anymore,” as some in the community may believe that all the crime comes from the metro areas. He also conveyed to the crowd that there is a fine line between shoplifting and burglary and wanted to emphasize that his department takes these crimes seriously. Chief Norman laid out his multifaceted violent crime plan that included district-specific steps. He made it clear that he was a resource for retailers and that the “gamechanger” occurs when retailers and law enforcement come together and establish communication before the cases happen.
Other sessions that day included invaluable information for ORC investigators. Cassandra Suro, Milwaukee director of public safety, gave an overview to the crowd on the INFORM Act and how it might affect Wisconsin ORC. Jacob Eastman, organized retail crime investigator with Dick’s Sporting Goods, and Shane Kindred, assets protection business partner with Target, led a beneficial session on ORC 101, providing job-ready resources and links for those in attendance. Brian Sampson, special agent with Homeland Security Investigations, walked the group through Operation Boiling Point and discussed actual cases.
The closing keynote session consisted of a riveting case profile titled “To Steal Without Sin,” presented by Lt. Jeremy Thayer, Downers Grove PD; Det Sgt. Sean Edmundson; and Det. Ryan Pacyga, both with Arlington Heights PD. The three laid out a case profile on a group who self-identified as gypsies and who, over the course of an eight-year, multi-state, multijurisdictional case, ended up stealing millions in merchandise from retailers. The investigation was complex, with dozens of subjects, theft methods, and money laundering techniques—it took perseverance to close. Thayer, Edmondson, and Pacyga gave an entertaining look into the inner workings of a lengthy case and educated those present on the value of confidential informants in ORC casework.
The conference was sponsored by Axis, Axon, Auror, the LP Foundation, Riot Glass, and QMI. For more information on WIORCA, please go to WIORCA.org.