Shoplifting is a common problem for virtually every business, and there are well-established ways to combat it. In the most extreme cases, however, shoplifting goes far deeper than the actions of a lone thief. Few business owners realize just how deep the rabbit hole goes when it comes to organized theft. 

What Is Organized Theft?

Organized theft, also called organized retail crime (ORC), is a term for criminal activity in your retail environment that is planned and executed by a group of people. Because these individuals have typically made a career of crime, organized theft can be hard to detect, and even harder to stop in its tracks.

In the spirit of giving your business every chance it needs to succeed, we’ll shed some light on the inner workings of organized theft. Understanding how these criminals operate is the first step for retailers like you to protect their businesses, assets, and customers.

Careful Planning

Organized theft always begins with meticulous planning — that’s what separates it from common shoplifting. Criminal groups that specialize in retail crime typically conduct preemptive reconnaissance, gathering information about the targeted store and its weak points. Scouts may study your store’s layout, its security measures, and its schedules to identify vulnerabilities.

Multiple Roles

Organized theft operations — the successful ones, at least — typically rely on teamwork and defined roles between participants. Each member of the group will be assigned a distinct job. This may include lookouts, distractors, shoplifters, transporters, and resellers, though the roles may vary depending on the location, store, hours, and size of the team. 

This clever division of work makes it challenging to catch a theft in progress, and nearly impossible to repossess stolen products once they have been successfully shoplifted.

Avoiding Detection

There are numerous techniques that organized theft groups commonly employ to evade detection by store personnel and law enforcement. For example, these crimes are typically conducted during the busiest periods of the store’s operations. When store personnel are preoccupied just trying to manage the crowd, thieves are able to slip in and out unnoticed. 

On other occasions, one or more members of a criminal group may create a distraction while the others take the opportunity to sneak out with expensive merchandise.

Resale of Stolen Goods

This phase of the process is what it all boils down to — the reason why criminal groups put so much work into organized theft operations. Redistribution of the stolen products is, after all, how these criminals make their money.

In organized crime scenarios, there are typically well-established sources who steal the merchandise (known as “boosters”) and those who sell said merchandise after the fact (often called “fences”). Online marketplaces and other anonymous outlets are common hotspots for the resale of goods that have fallen victim to organized theft.

Combating Organized Theft

As a retailer, your role in combating organized theft is crucial. Still, this is no simple task. Here are a few professional tips to help you stay on your guard:

Invest in Comprehensive Security Measures

Implement comprehensive, cutting-edge security systems at your retail store, including modern devices like surveillance cameras, EAS tags, and active alarms to make theft detection easier.

Train and Educate Your Staff

Train your entire staff on how to recognize and report suspicious activity. Educating your team on how organized theft works is the first step to building a safer workplace for everyone.

Take Advantage of Data and Analytics

Leverage modern technologies and data analytics to identify patterns and outliers in your store’s traffic, sales, and inventory. Technology like RFID (radio-frequency identification) systems are an excellent way to keep tabs on this information. 

Retail Security Technology from PPS

Elevate your retail security to the next level by investing in advanced solutions from PPS. We offer comprehensive security measures to help you deter and detect organized theft wherever it strikes. 

Combat Organized Theft with PPS

As common as petty shoplifting is, organized theft is often a far bigger threat to retail locations everywhere. By understanding the inner workings of this threat, however, you can take steps toward combating it and protecting your business for years to come.

Here at Product Protection Solutions (PPS), we’re dedicated to providing comprehensive, affordable, and reliable security solutions for stores like yours. Remember to stay vigilant, invest in security, and educate those around you. Together, we can combat organized theft.

For more ways to protect against organized theft, contact PPS today.