By  on June 4, 2008

Retailers were victims of organized crime at record rates last year, and evidence suggests that the increasing appeal of the Internet as the preferred place to "e-fence" stolen goods was a big reason.

The National Retail Federation's fourth annual Organized Retail Crime Survey, released Tuesday, revealed that 85 percent of the 114 merchants surveyed were victims of organized retail crime last year, up from 79 percent in 2006, 81 percent in 2005 and 78 percent in the survey's first year, 2004. Although participants weren't identified, the NRF said the majority of respondents were department stores or specialty stores that carry apparel, accessories or beauty items.

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