Organized Retail Crime Attracting Eyes of Law Enforcement

Organized retail crime centers on common consumables, such as baby and hygiene products, writes the Federal Way Mirror in an article, Organized retail crime: Washington law enforcement puts heat on shoplifters. Car trunks or in backyards, flea markets, swap meets and mom-and-pop shops are among the places where the items are sold to the public, typically at deeply discounted prices, though for the seller, it is all profit.

Auction websites such as eBay are havens for stolen merchandise, according to the article. Other criminals return stolen goods to retailers for a fraudulent refund, or perhaps buy the stuff with stolen credit cards.

A recent report from the Washington Retail Association involved a King County couple who recruited a few dozen drug addicts to steal from stores, with the items either resold or shipped to Cambodia.

Many of these thieves target multiple retail outlets, often in the same day, along the Interstate 5 corridor.

In Washington, the estimated annual loss to retailers is $77 million, according to Tacoma police officer Scott Stanley. He started the Washington State Organized Retail Crime Alliance in November 2010 while looking into theft reports at the Tacoma Mall. Both police and retailers have since gotten involved. Today, the alliance’s database boasts 402 registered users from 81 cities in nine states (several retailers have headquarters located outside Washington).