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Report: Retail Crime is Increasingly Turning Violent

Organized retail crime (ORC) is one of the leading causes of shrink in the retail industry. And, unfortunately, organized retail criminals are growing steadily more aggressive. The National Retail Federation just released the 2017 Organized Retail Crime Study, and the results should alarm anyone in the loss prevention industry. 

ORC: The Leading Source of Inventory Shrink

organized retail crime

Image courtesy of NRF

ORC is now the leading cause of inventory shrink. The report showed that: 

  1. 94.6% of all surveyed retailers believe they have been impacted by ORC. 

  2. Nearly all retailers (93.4%) reported no decline in ORC activity, while over two-thirds (67%) reported an increase in organized retail crime activity over the past 12 months. 

  3. Responding companies report an average of loss of $726,351 per $1 billion in annual sales volume due to ORC activities. 

  4. ORC remains the leading source of inventory shrinkage for the second year in a row, outpacing employee theft and other forms of shrinkage.

An Sharp Uptick in ORC Aggression

Image courtesy of NRF

While ORC is having a detrimental financial impact on retailers, of more concern is how ORC activity places employees and customers in danger. NRF’s report reveals that: 

  1. ORC gangs are exhibiting more aggressive and violent behavior than ever before. 

  2. Virtually all retailers (98.5%) report that organized retail criminals are as aggressive or more aggressive than last year. 

  3. Over a quarter of retailers surveyed report that they’ve seen “much more aggression” compared to last year.

  4. This reported increase in aggression corresponds with the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting data on violent crime, which shows a 4.1% uptick in violent crimes nationwide.

How Retailers Can Stop ORC Before It Starts

In light of increasing crime and aggression, loss prevention and retail security professionals have a responsibility to do everything they can to mitigate ORC. Fortunately, there is an emerging solution to this increasing threat: face recognition. Facial recognition for retail is the only way to prevent crime before it happens. Prevention is key, since most violent retail incidents occur after a criminal has already been caught shoplifting.

Here’s how a face recognition system can prevent ORC. 

  1. Watchlist– The first step of using face recognition to prevent crime is creating a criminal intelligence database. You can use FaceFirst’s face recognition to enroll shoplifters and other retail criminals in your own managed database. We also offer criminal intelligence data as a service. So we can provide you with a database of known retail criminals.

  2. Surveillance– As people enter your stores, our system can match them against the database. It can automatically compare peoples’ faces against 25 million photos in a database per second.

  3. Alerts– The moment that someone in your store matches a known retail criminal, your security team will receive an alert, complete with actionable intelligence.

Often, simply offering a known criminal customer service, or calling them by name is enough to deter them from stealing. We’ve seen this happen time and again. They just leave the store. And by being proactive, you’ll not only reduce shrink, but also prevent violence. Our customers have reported a shrink reduction of up to 34% and a 91% reduction in violent crime. So as organized retail criminals grow increasingly aggressive, more and more top retail chains are finding that face recognition is the secret to crime prevention. 


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