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Targets, Trends, and Threats in ORC

In a recent webinar CONTROLTEK hosted in conjunction with the Loss Prevention Foundation, I was joined by Ben Dugan, CFI, director of ORC and corporate investigations at CVS Health, and president of the National Coalition of Law Enforcement & Retail (CLEAR).

With organized retail crime (ORC) at the forefront of everyone’s minds, this timely discussion centered around targets, trends, and threats impacting retailers today. “Organized retail crime is the number one contributor to ongoing security threats in the retail industry today,” said Dugan. While the COVID-19 pandemic certainly plays into this, Dugan stated that “retailers are considering ORC their number one challenge—this is what keeps them up at night. There is an increase due to COVID, but also an increase in the associated violence that goes along with ORC.” Dugan also noted that some retailers have seen incidences involving external theft along with violence double since COVID-19, due to emboldened thieves.

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Targets, Trends and Threats in ORC Webinar: What You Need to Know About Organized Retail Crime in 2021 and Beyond 

CONTROLTEK recently partnered with the Loss Prevention Foundation to present the webinar “Targets, Trends and Threats in ORC” with co-host Ben Dugan, director of ORC and corporate investigations at CVS Health and president of the National Coalition of Law Enforcement and Retailer (C.L.E.A.R.), and Tom Meehan, CFI, chief strategy officer, and chief information security officer at CONTROLTEK.

Short for organized retail crime, ORC has moved to the forefront of the conversation in retail. In fact, Dugan and Meehan both agree that ORC is the most dangerous security threat in the retail industry today. Many retailers consider organized retail crime to be one of their biggest challenges, with many companies unable to meet their profit goals because of the losses caused by ORC. 

Since 2020, we have seen a huge increase in ORC, fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic and an increased shift to e-commerce. One of the major issues in the fight against organized retail crime is the ongoing controversy between ehttps://www.controltekusa.com/blog/fake-vaccination-cards-spread-as-delta-variant-ramps-up/-commerce platforms like Amazon and eBay and retailers and law enforcement, who claim that these platforms facilitate the sale of stolen goods by failing to verify sellers. 

The increase in organized retail crime has huge costs across the retail industry. Dugan reported that external thefts involving violence have doubled at CVS Health since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Wall Street Journal reported that retailers like Target, Ulta Beauty, TJX, and Home Depot have seen the number of investigations into criminal networks grow by 86 percent since 2016. Organized retail crime has become such a huge challenge for retailers that it has surpassed loss prevention, and even the C-suite is now prioritizing combatting ORC in order to protect profitability. 

C.L.E.A.R. estimates that organized retail crime results in $45 billion in annual losses for retailers, a significant increase from the FBI’s estimate of $30 billion a decade ago. Today, retailers spend millions of dollars to combat organized retail crime groups that steal their merchandise and sell it online through e-commerce platforms. According to C.L.E.A.R., 100 percent of retailers surveyed reported being victims of ORC. 

Organized retail crime has also surpassed other sources of retail shrink. Today, the cost of ORC exceeds that of internal employee theft, and according to Dugan, external theft makes up 60 to 65 percent of retail theft. Although investigating cases of organized retail crime does reduce shrink, it’s not a sustainable long-term solution without any major preventative efforts, such as widespread collaboration between retailers and law enforcement and even creating new legislation. 

As mentioned earlier, the rise in online shopping and e-commerce has fueled organized retail crime by giving thieves more opportunities to sell stolen goods. Although the online marketplace has been on the rise since 2017, since the COVID-19 pandemic, consumer demand for online shopping has exploded. 

Amazon and eBay are the top e-commerce platforms today, not just for legitimate retailers and businesses but for organized retail crime groups as well. E-commerce platforms typically do not verify sellers’ identities and payment methods, which reduces the risk of being caught for thieves who sell stolen goods online. Today, ORC groups even sell stolen merchandise on mainstream social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Reddit. 

Bringing more attention to the issue of organized retail crime can help law enforcement discover more cases and catch more thieves. Before 2020, many law enforcement groups and local governments were completely unaware of the rising threat of ORC, which left the burden of deterring theft and investigating ORC cases to retailers. But as retailers, federal agencies, and police departments continue to work closely together on ORC, law enforcement can work on real ORC cases and actually mitigate the issue. 

For nearly two years, the rapid digitization of almost every industry has ushered in some exciting changes for both consumers and businesses, while also increasing the risk of organized retail crime, cybersecurity threats, and much more. As retailers continue to combat ORC, it is essential for them to collaborate, share information and build effective strategies to protect their businesses and their customers. 

Please feel free to reach out to either Tom Meehan or Ben Dugan with any questions you may have about these topics. Organizations like C.L.E.A.R., are also here to support retailers in every facet of their loss prevention strategy. Don’t forget to check out the 2021 C.L.E.A.R. Conference, November 16-18, 2021, in Orlando, Florida. In addition, the Buy Safe America Coalition has numerous resources and ways to get involved and aid in the protection of consumers and communities from the sale of counterfeit and stolen goods.

Tom Meehan to Deliver Keynote at 2021 GROC Conference on The Link Between ORC and Human Trafficking

ATLANTA, GA. (Sept. 9, 2021)Tom Meehan, CFI, chief strategy officer at CONTROLTEK and leading expert in cybersecurity and organized retail crime, will join Noel Thomas, chief executive officer of Zero Trafficking, to deliver the keynote on the link between organized retail crime (ORC) and human trafficking, at the Georgia Retailers Organized Crime Alliance (GROC) Virtual Summit, on September 16, 2021.

“Human trafficking has become a major concern to retailers as organized retail crime has been shown to increase larger, more violent crimes,” said Meehan. “With Noel’s expertise in the fight against human trafficking, we’ll inform retailers about how to spot potential indicators of both ORC and human trafficking in their own operations.”

In this session, retailers can expect to gain a better understanding of how human trafficking and ORC are connected, how to spot potential indicators, and what to do when faced with this activity to help in the fight against ORC and human trafficking. “I’m pleased to support Tom’s involvement with Zero Trafficking and commend them for the critical work they are doing to equip the retail industry with resources and solutions to help combat the evolving challenges they are faced with in regards to ORC,” said Rod Diplock, CEO of CONTROLTEK.

For more information and to register for the event, please visit the GROC website.