Now Hiring: Shoplifters
BOSTON (MainStreet) -- The crowds and chaos of the holiday shopping season will keep retail security forces on their toes for the next several weeks, and some will be kept busy watching their fellow employees.
Loss prevention teams for large retailers and small businesses alike have already had their hands full in recent months with theft on the rise, a likely side effect of the sluggish economy and high unemployment.
|The poster child for high-tech loss prevention is Target, which has a forensics team so sophisticated that it regularly consults with local law enforcement as well as the FBI and other federal agencies.|
"Once Pandora's box has been opened, whether by the economy, or any other pretense or justification -- and these new consumer shoplifters confirm that shoplifting is indeed a low-risk, high-reward activity -- then they will not be quick to change their newfound ways," the Retail Industry Leaders Association said in a statement that referred to a study claiming that approximately one-third of shoplifting offenders are at high risk of repeating their offense.
According to the U.K.-based Centre for Retail Research's Global Retail Theft Barometer for 2011 (which tracked retail losses during a 12-month period ending in June), retail crime costs including losses and expenses totaled $47.2 million in the U.S., an increase of $2.5 billion from the previous year.According to the study, underwritten by Checkpoint Systems (CKP), U.S. losses consisted of $14.9 billion in customer theft, $1.8 billion in supplier and vendor-related losses (including fraud) of $1.8 billion and loss prevention costs (staff and equipment) of almost $12.2 billion. The source of the largest hit? Employee theft, estimated at $18.4 billion. The impact of in-house swindling was even more apparent when arrest records were studied. For the 1.7 million customers charged with shoplifting, the average amount stolen was $374; the 697,128 employee thieves averaged $1,764 in ill-gotten gain. To prepare retailers further for the busy season ahead, the National Retail Federation last week released Crowd Management Guidelines, a seasonal security blueprint crafted by retail loss prevention executives.
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