Retailers increase efforts to fight organized retail crime

Retail Gets Real 264: Think LP’s Tony Sheppard on the resources and technology needed to fight ORC

This episode originally aired Nov. 2, 2021.

What comes to mind when you think of organized retail crime? Tony Sheppard, director of loss prevention solutions at ThinkLP, says the meaning has evolved over the years but is simply defined as stealing from a retail location and converting those stolen goods to cash. ORC can include credit card fraud, stealing a product and returning it for cash or reselling it. Retailer loss prevention departments are growing as they track the flow of goods from where they’ve been removed and where products end up.

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The rise in ORC incidents is a result of more online shopping from increased demand for products in online marketplaces during the pandemic. Demand for online products has unfortunately led to demand for stolen products as well.

To combat these issues, retailers have historically used alarm tags and anti-resale tags, put GPS trackers in some products and locked up items to make it harder to buy them in bulk, but Sheppard says the issue is getting more complicated for loss prevention professionals.

“You need the resources and the technology to be able to manage through some of those cases and do a lot of the work that quite frankly, years ago, law enforcement used to do,” Sheppard says. That includes investing in vehicle surveillance and enhanced technology to help track stolen goods.

Reducing and preventing ORC also includes education and ensuring it is understood at the law enforcement and federal level that ORC is not a petty crime.

“We as an industry need to make sure we are classifying it as organized retail crime … the onus is on the retailer to continue to educate,” Sheppard says. “You have to define the difference to get that these are professional thieves … typically they're involved in other criminal activity too.”

Tune into the episode to learn more about the pandemic’s impact on retail security and how retailers are combatting ORC and planning for the future.

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