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Loss Prevention

The dirty laundry on Tide thefts and organized retail crime

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On Monday, a front page story in The Daily called out the soaring Tide detergent theft problem across the country. The story went viral today with local and national media groups discussing Tide specifically and touching on the broader issue of organized retail crime.

Organized retail crime affects virtually every retailer in America, costing the industry tens of billions of dollars each year and a majority of companies reporting the problem is getting worse, not better. It impacts everything from the bottom line to the safety of people in the stores. As criminals become more brazen, retailers are working fervently to cut down on organized retail crime activity in order to ensure the safety of their associates and shoppers.

In NRF's 2011 Organized Retail Crime Survey, Tide was not listed specifically on the NRF's list of top items targeted by organized retail crime groups, however it does fit the profile and some organized retail crime cases were publicized in the local coverage today. Last year, I discussed what retailers are doing on the legislative front to combat this multi-billion dollar problem on CNBC's Squawk on the Street.

Criminals are keen on obtaining the hottest-selling merchandise because of its high resale value. Trends retailers have identified in top-fenced merchandise include the desire for all branded merchandise, particularly exclusive licensed goods. Consumable products such as over-the-counter medications, infant formula, high-end technology devices and designer denim are some of the top targeted items to be fenced. Retailers are constantly experimenting with ways to protect targeted items. Many stores reposition products where employees can keep a watchful eye on them, others limit quantities on display, while several use special locking devices such as secure caps and a few are locking them up.

As retailers continue to build their defenses against the growing problem of organized retail crime, criminals are finding myriad ways to work around the system. Over the past five years, many Loss Prevention experts have adjusted their tactics to prevent, detect and investigate these costly crimes by working with industry groups, stepping up legislative efforts and partnering with law enforcement. This is not a problem easily solved by working alone and demand collaborative solutions. Industry leaders at NRF's 2012 Loss Prevention Conference and Expo will discuss the over-arching trends of asset protection and share strategies for retailers to prepare and respond to any organized retail crime situation.

Whether it's Tide, designer jeans, electronic games or vacuum cleaners, the dirty laundry on these criminal groups will come out in the wash eventually. To see progress that's been made, check out CNBC's Crime Inc: Stolen Goods for exclusive interviews with retailers and law enforcement, as well as footage of organized retail crime raids and cases.