Broward County
Crime Commission

"Evil Triumphs When Good People Stand Idly By"

Organized Retail Crime Initiative (ORC)

Organized Retail Crime refers to professional shoplifting, cargo theft, retail crime rings and other organized crime occurring in retail environments. One person acting alone is not considered an example of organized retail crime. The FBI has estimated that the losses attributed to organized retail crime could reach as much as $30 billion a year. These criminals move from store to store and even city to city. Working in teams, some create distractions while others steal everything from infant formula to DVDs. Often, they are stocking up on specified items at the request of the organized crime leader.

According to Brian J. Nadeau, former program manager of the FBI's Organized Retail Theft Program, “These aren’t shoplifters taking a pack of gum. These are professional thieves.


Health and safety concerns:

Gangs consistently steal high-value merchandise that can be easily hidden, such as medications, infant formula, razor blades, apparel, camera film, batteries, DVDs, CDs, and smoking cessation products. Thieves may resell infant formula and pharmaceuticals among other things after not storing them correctly – or after altering expiration dates. Unsuspecting consumers face serious health and safety risks.

Notable cases

Florida. In early 2008, a single shoplifting investigation turned up a massive organized enterprise. Operating for at least five years, criminals had stolen up to $100 million in medicine, health and beauty goods.

Texas FBI agents pulled over a rental truck, leading them to $2.7 million in stolen assets. The goods included $1 million in stolen baby formula that was stored in rodent-infested garages with no temperature control.

Pennsylvania. In January 2013, West York Police (York County) announced the arrest of over 130 people and the organizer of a major organized retail crime ring in which the individuals targeted over 90 stores at over 300 locations in 5 counties in Pennsylvania and 2 counties in northern Maryland, with an estimated loss to retailers at 1 million dollar.

Current legislation

On July 15, 2008, Reps. Brad Ellsworth, D-Ind., and Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, introduced the Organized Retail Crime Act of 2008 that would make it a felony to engage in activities that further organized retail crime. Specific and narrow obligations upon on-line marketplaces known to be used by high-volume sellers of stolen merchandise are also included to benefit legitimate online businesses. According to Rep. Ellsworth, "The bill will provide law enforcement officers and retailers with the tools they need to reveal the cloak of anonymity and bring these criminals to justice; while at the same time, preserving the online marketplace for law-abiding citizens."

On August 1, 2008, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill. introduced the Combating Organized Retail Crime Act of 2008 that would give law enforcement the ability to prosecute among other things

South Florida tops in organized retail crime


South Florida Business Journal

Date: Wednesday, June 8, 2011, 11:48am EDT

Miami/Fort Lauderdale leads a list of the top 10 metropolitan areas where retail executives say organized crime has impacted their business.

The findings are from a survey conducted by the National Retail Federation, which found 89.5 percent of retailers saying they have fallen victim to organized crime in the last year. Still, that’s down from 92.2 percent.

The survey also found that nearly six out of 10 retailers have seen an increase in organized crime activity in the last year, down from the nearly three-quarters last year.

“The relationships retailers have built with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies are making it harder for felons, but billions are still being lost each year from this exhausting battle with criminals, “ said Joe LaRocca, NRF senior asset protection advisor, in a news release.

As the economy starts to improve, nearly half of retailers say they are starting to spend more on organized crime awareness and prevention, up from 41.8 percent a year ago.

Retailers say they have had some success working with state and federal law enforcement agencies identifying stolen merchandise at pawnshops, temporary stores and online sales sites.

Miami ranks in top 10

for organized retail crime

South Florida Business Journal

Date: Tuesday, June 5, 2012, 2:59pm EDT

While Miami has been known for the occasional headline-making crime, business owners would probably prefer that the city did not rank among the top 10 cities for organized retail crime.

The National Retail Federation conducted a survey to determine its list of the metro areas with the highest amounts of organized retail crime, which is the theft of large amounts of merchandise by organized gangs who seek to resell the stolen goods to fund criminal enterprises.

Metro areas joining Miami on the list are:

* Atlanta

* Baltimore/Washington

* Chicago

* Dallas

* Houston

* Los Angeles/Orange County, Calif.

* New York/Northern New Jersey

* Phoenix

* San Francisco/Oakland, Calif.

“With the types of organized retail crimes changing in severity and scope every day, and cargo theft and violent instances becoming more troubling, retailers are constantly on high alert,” said Joe LaRocca, National Retail Federation senior asset protection advisor, in a statement.

The federation surveyed senior loss-prevention executives at 125 retail companies between April 9 and May 11.

According to the federation, organized retail crime is a growing problem, with a record 96 percent of respondents saying their companies had been the targets in the past year, up from 94.5 percent last year.

In addition, 87.7 percent of those surveyed reported that organized retail crime had grown over the past three years.

The federation said one way to combat the organized retail crime is through federal legislation, since it is a crime that crosses state lines.