Organized retail crime (ORC)—defined as professional shoplifting by organized crime rings—is growing, with 83% of 59 merchants surveyed reporting an increase in the past year, according the National Retail Federation’s “12th annual ORC study,” conducted July 20-Aug. 19, 2016.
Sean Sportun, ICPS manager, security & loss prevention for Mac’s Convenience Stores in Canada, noted ORC is an evolving issue for the c-store industry.
While ORC usually targets big box chains with high volume items “what most fail to realize is the c-store/gas industry are the initial target for these groups when it comes to fraud payment cards and robberies,” Sportun said. “C-store retailers must ensure they have a training program in place and that it is current—this will enable employees to combat these crimes and remain safe if they encounter an incident.”
Mac’s is renowned for fighting crime, from inviting communities to take ownership of neighborhood convenience stores by participating in painting a store mural to posting images of thieves to Mac’s Crime Stoppers social media pages, so members of the community can identify them for a reward.
“Mac’s is now being studied by Harvard University on the crime prevention program’s effectiveness in reducing incidents of crime,” Sportun said. The Harvard Business Study should be available this summer.
Mac’s is also using a Tobacco Tracker program to monitor stolen tobacco cartons—a “huge success,” both in the recovery of assets and in the apprehensions of suspects. Security expert Chris McGoey, president of McGoey Security Consulting, said while ORC is an age-old issue, the label is often overused, especially in relation to convenience stores.
“What’s happening (at c-stores) is plain old shoplifting. It’s the same old story: if you have one person on duty and that person is overworked, they’re not going to be able to pay attention to potential shoplifters,” he said.
McGoey said he sees theft overall trending upward. There are more items today, more inventory issues to contend with and products are more expensive—which means theft dollar totals are higher—all contributing factors.
C-stores must also contend with employee theft. The “28th Annual Retail Theft Survey” conducted June 2016 by loss prevention consulting firm Jack L. Hayes International, found one out of every 38 employees was apprehended for theft from their employer in 2015. The survey was based on approximately 3 million employees.
“The convenience industry is hit particularly hard with employee theft because of the nature of a c-store. They’re designed to be operated by one person often times without supervision,” McGoey said.
Mac’s is using technology to help matters.
“The loss prevention department implemented a variety of preventative measures to identify this type of crime, but our most effective initiative has been the introduction of our 24/7 monitoring room, which has the ability to remote access into stores through the DVR system,” Sportun said.
While ongoing advancements in video surveillance ability and quality continue to improve, McGoey warned some retailers invest too much capital in technology and then fail to use it, thinking just having the technology is a deterrent. McGoey said sticking to the basics of counting inventory, implementing cash controls, hiring and training well and monitoring customers are crucial in preventing theft. (read more)