Organized retail theft is a growing problem for retail stores.

Shoplifting has always been a problem for retailers, and sometimes a widespread one. The National Association for Shoplifting Prevention estimates that in the past five years, more than 10 million people have been caught shoplifting in the U.S. The value of items stolen tend to range from a few dollars to a few hundred.

If not addressed, shoplifting can have an impact on a company’s bottom line, especially at small businesses. But it is important to remember there are two types of shoplifters. There are those who act alone and who do not premeditate their offenses. And then there are criminals who actively work together with others in order to steal more. This falls under the category of organized retail crime.

“If not addressed, shoplifting can have an impact on the bottom line.”

According to the National Retail Federation’s 2016 Organized Retail Crime Survey, researchers found that all respondents believe their businesses have been victimized by planned shoplifting in the past year, and 83 percent said this type of crime had recently increased.

Organized retail crime can come in many forms. Respondents said they have found their merchandise being sold on the internet, or at local flea markets and pawn shops. In addition, thieves will attempt to bring stolen merchandise back into the store and attempt to return it for a refund. There have even been instances of cargo being stolen off trucks.

As theft tactics grow more sophisticated, business costs are rising. Survey respondents said they saw an average impact of about $700,000 per $1 billion in sales. While a single thief may steal once or twice, and usually in small amounts, organized groups can cause significant financial damage over time. Retailers must invest in more sophisticated methods of catching theft and preventing its reoccurrence.

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