Retail Detail. New Study Shows that Organized Theft is on the Rise

June 11, 2009 • Shopping

The good ol' days of organized crime were much more fashionable

Do desperate times really call for desperate measures? Sadly, some people seem to think so. A new study conducted from a leading trade group, as covered by Reuters, states that a whopping 9 out of 10 retailers say have had merchandise stolen by organized crime rings. The National Retail Foundation agrees with its statistics stating 92 percent of surveyed retailers had been victims of organized crime in the past year, a figure up from 84 percent last year.

So does this mean the mafia is back in town with the return of fringe and dropwaists? Not quite—the organized crime circuit of present day isn't nearly as glamorous as the Prohibition Era, though it may be stemmed from the same reasons. Joe LaRocca, the trade group's senior asset
protection adviser, said in a statement that, "Organized retail crime rings have realized that tough economic times
present new business opportunities
by stealing valuable items from
retailers and turning around to sell the merchandise to consumers
looking for bargains."

According to the study, thieves that create these elaborate stealing schemes tend to work in groups in order to rip off thousands of dollars worth of in-demand designer clothing,
over-the-counter medicines, infant formula, gift cards and electronics
. They use strategies ranging from UPC code swapping to simple, grab and run sessions, and then set up their own makeshift shop at swap meets, flea markets, and pawn shops. More than half the retailers surveyed in the study claimed to have identified obviously stolen merchandise, like electronics and gift cards, in places like these.

Thieves will sell their stolen merchandise in makeshift fleamarkets and yard sales

The other outlet the survey explains that theives use to sell their pinched goods is online. Publicly used retail sites like Ebay and Craiglist are swarming with stolen items. The study warns that half of "new in box" and "new with tags"
merchandise for sale in these places has actually been stolen. This is
problematic because online shoppers do tend to prefer these "new" items,
thinking defective merchandise could still be repaired by or returned
to the manufacturer even if they bought the product from a stranger. While retailers are working to crack down on security measures to prevent organized crime rings the NRF urges all consumers to be aware of their responsibility as a shopper: be familiar with where you buy your merchandise, avoid purchasing designer items from "illegitimate" online retailers and speak up if something suspicious is noticed when shopping in stores.

Article Source: Reuters
Photo Source: zazzle, ehow

-Alia Rajput

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