WASHINGTON — The number of retailers victimized by organized retail crime groups increased in the past year, as criminal gangs became increasingly more brazen and violent in their quest to steal a wide range of popular consumer products, the National Retail Federation said in its annual report.
The NRF’s eighth annual study revealed that of the 125 retailers surveyed, 96 percent said they had been the victim of organized retail crime in the past year, up from 94.5 percent last year. Another 87 percent said organized retail crime has increased in the past three years.
Denim jeans continued to be one of the top stolen items, according to the retailers surveyed in the report. In general, criminal groups target department and specialty stores for items such as designer clothing, handbags, lingerie and accessories and resell it online, at pawn shops and flea markets, and through other fencing operations. Gift cards, over-the-counter medicines, electronics, batteries and infant formula were also in high demand.
“What this tells us is that as retailers and law enforcement become more aware of and more proactive in pursuing organized retail crime gangs, criminals have become more desperate and brazen in their efforts, stopping at nothing to get their hands on large quantities of merchandise,” said Rich Mellor, vice president of loss prevention at the NRF. “Selling this stolen merchandise is a growing criminal enterprise and retailers must remain vigilant as this is an issue that involves everyone’s cooperation when it comes to protecting retailer’s assets, including their valued store associates and customers.”
The NRF’s survey was conducted from April 17 to May 11 and involved loss-prevention executives from department stores, large-box retailers, discounters, drug stores, groceries, restaurants and specialty retailers. The report cited several factors contributing to the increased level of crime, including a weakened economy, lower staffing levels at stores and the “ease” of selling stolen merchandise in a variety of outlets.
Among the new trends in criminal activity that retailers reported were digital receipt fraud, increased laundry detergent thefts, increased smash-and-grab incidents and collusion with street gangs. Cargo theft “continues to grow at an alarming rate, posing huge problems for retailers and their distribution centers,” the report said. According to the survey, 52.1 percent of companies said they were a victim of cargo theft in the past 12 months, up from 49.6 percent last year.
“A significantly higher percent of companies [68.1 percent this versus 57.4 percent last year] said cargo theft occurs mostly en route from the distribution center to the store,” the report said. Four in 10 retailers said theft also occurs en route from the manufacturer to the distribution center, while 15.9 percent said the crime happens at the distribution center.
The top 10 cities and regions in the U.S. where the organized criminal activity occurred were Atlanta, Baltimore/Washington D.C., Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles/Orange County, New York/Northern New Jersey, Miami, Phoenix and San Francisco/Oakland, according to the report.
“Though retailers continue to make great strides in their fight against organized retail crime, sophisticated criminals with unending opportunities and anonymous outlets to sell their stolen merchandise are proving to be quite challenging for both retailers and law enforcement agencies working to combat this issue,” said Joe LaRocca senior asset protection adviser at the NRF. “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.”
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye
"Nowadays when life is not so happy with everything going on in the world, I think people come to me for a little bit of whimsy and color and fun." - Designer Rebecca De Ravenel on her cult-favorite jewelry line. (📸 : @vsteves) #wwd40
“Everyone is talking about how the retail industry is struggling, but I think it’s an incredible time because brands who are doing something different and innovative are setting themselves up for the future,” said @adamgoldston, who founded the luxury athletic brand @apl with his brother @ryangoldsten. The Goldston’s are part of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables. See the rest of the list on WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
@eyeswoon blogger Athena Calderone debuted her first-ever cookbook, “Cook Beautiful,” which is heavily centered on the presentation and visual expression of food. Pictured here are her miso glazed carrots from the book. Get the recipe on WWD.com. (📷: @johnny_miller_) #wwdeye
“It’s passion that helps get anybody to a certain point and it’s what’s propelled me,” said Kith founder @ronniefieg, one of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables who are changing the face of retail, fashion and beauty. Fieg, who opened a Manhattan flagship on October 7, began his career at age 13 as a stock boy and salesman for footwear chain David Z. “I think staying true to [my] beliefs, hard work and passion have gotten me to where [Kith] is today.” See the rest of the 40 at WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
25-year-old @samweaving is about to break out this fall, starring in Netflix’s horror film “The Babysitter,” fittingly out today on Friday the 13th. That’s not the only place you’ll be seeing her, though — Weaving’s got a role Showtime’s “SMILF” and another alongside Frances McDormand and Woody Harrelson in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Though she’s got a full plate at the moment, there’s one role she’s got her eye on: Marilyn Monroe. “I’m a little too young at the moment, but it’s on my bucket list,” the actress told WWD (📷: @dandoperalski) #wwdeye
BFF's Poppy Jamie and Suki Waterhouse celebrated the launch of their bag line Pop x Suki at Nordstrom last night. "The line is really about our friendship, and how we are so different but complement each other," said Waterhouse. 👯 (📷: Katie Jones) #wwdeye
After designing the new @louisvuitton and @bulgariofficial flagships and a @chanelofficial boutique opening in Japan, @petermarinoarchitect has another project on his plate: The Lobster Club. Located in the Seagram Building, it’s the famed architect’s first restaurant project in New York, serving up modern Japanese brasserie-style cuisine. Bronze hues, bespoke material detailing, blush and chartreuse tones and a heavy emphasis on Picasso can be seen throughout. Mark your calendars for Nov. 1 for the much-anticipated opening. (📷: @clint_spaulding) #wwdeye
Did you know: @carlychaikin of "Mr. Robot" has been painting for about a decade? The actress, who plays Darlene on the show, is a self-taught artist who lists Salvador Dalí and Chuck Close as some of her idols. Chaikin told WWD that painting is a form of meditation for her — A much-needed one given the intensity of "Mr. Robot." See a piece Chaikin is working on at WWD.com (📷: @jilliansollazzo) #wwdeye