by Lillian Tweten
Retailers lost more than $112 billion to crime in 2022, a roughly 19% increase in losses from 2021, a survey from the National Retail Federation (NRF) and the Loss Prevention Research Council found.
At least 28% of businesses who responded to the survey reported that they had closed locations because of organized retail theft, while 30% reduced or altered their in-store product selections. Out of the 177 retail brands surveyed, 88% said that shoplifters had become somewhat more or much more violent in 2022 compared to the previous year.
“Retailers are seeing unprecedented levels of theft coupled with rampant crime in their stores, and the situation is only becoming more dire,” David Johnston, the NRF vice president for Asset Protection and Retail Operations, said in a press release announcing the survey. “Far beyond the financial impact of these crimes, the violence and concerns over safety continue to be the priority for all retailers, regardless of size or category.”
Mob Looting Philadelphia Stores pic.twitter.com/W2gOVPB115
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Stores said that two-thirds of participants in organized thefts had become even more violent and aggressive in 2022, causing many stores to just allow thefts to happen rather than get their employees involved. Over 41% of companies said they changed their policies in 2023 to not allow any employees, even loss prevention officers, to engage with shoplifters.
“As incidents of violence have increased, a growing number of retailers have taken a hands-off approach with shoplifters,” the survey noted. “Compared with last year, more retailers reported that no employees are authorized to intervene in a shoplifting event.”
Los Angeles, San Francisco and Oakland, California, reported the most instances of organized retail crime in 2022, while stores in New York City, Atlanta, Chicago and Seattle also reported heavy losses, the survey showed. Retailers across the nation have begun to shutter locations in the most crime-rampant cities, including Target, Walmart and AT&T.
Stores reported that some of the most stolen items in organized retail theft incidents included seafood, backpacks, athletic clothes, mobile devices and over-the-counter pain medication, according to the survey. Respondents also mentioned that they had seen more valuable items stolen in areas where cities or states had increased the felony threshold for thefts, and witnessed more repeat offenders in areas that had eliminated cash bail.
The NRF declined to comment further on the matter.
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Lillian Tweten is a reporter at Daily Caller News Foundation.
Photo “Shop Lifter” by Morning Calm Weekly Newspaper Installation Management Command, U.S. Army. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.