By  on April 6, 2007

WASHINGTON — Responding to a spike in organized retail crime, two trade groups have joined forces with the Federal Bureau of Investigation to launch the Law Enforcement Retail Partner­ship Network, a national database stores can use to share information on perpetrators.

The Web-based database, which is being launched Monday, combines existing programs created by the National Retail Federation and the Retail Industry Leaders Association.

According to an NRF study last year, 81 percent of retailers have been touched by organized crime, and nearly half of those polled reported an increase in coordinated criminal activity in their stores.

The FBI estimates organized crime could cost stores as much as $30 billion a year.

The database lets retailers post information about crimes on a secure Web site to which other stores and police have access. The site includes details on suspects and getaway cars, as well as photos and video footage. Stores and the police can use the database to connect the dots and, they hope, catch criminals.

The system also can send e-mail alerts to stores when crimes are committed nearby.

"This is a proactive and an analytical tool that allows retailers to collaborate with each other as well as with law enforcement officials," Tim O'Connor, RILA's vice president of asset protection, said in a statement.

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