NEW YORK — Organized retail crime is a “major problem” that cuts across company size and impacts firms from different channels, according to a recent survey by the National Retail Federation.

The NRF’s 2006 Organized Retail Crime poll revealed that 48 percent of those surveyed had seen a “slight increase” in criminal activity over the past year while 81 percent of loss-prevention executives “indicated their companies have been a victim of organized retail crime.”

The NRF found that 93 percent of those polled said they were concerned over organized retail crime “and the problem for them is getting worse, not better.”

“Of those polled, 41 percent said organized retail crime was a significant or severe issue, compared to only 30 percent of respondents last year,” the NRF said in a statement.

Regarding fenced goods, which involves selling stolen goods to other stores, 59 percent of the respondents said they have “recovered merchandise or gift cards from a physical fence operator” while “67 percent of respondents recovered such goods” via “eFencing operations.”

NRF vice president of loss prevention Joseph LaRocca warned, “As more criminals become involved in organized theft rings, it could become increasingly violent and unpredictable.”

“Due to the vastness and complexity of organized retail crime, the majority [89 percent] of retailers feel that there is still a need for a national database to track activity and three-fourths of respondents say they either will or are likely to participate in such a system,” the NRF concluded.

The NRF said there are federal and state laws pending to support and maintain the Retail Loss Prevention Intelligence Network, which is a national database.

This story first appeared in the June 12, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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